Shen Wei, artistic director of the New York-based Shen Wei Dance Arts and contributor to the Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Beijing, will speak in Feb. 26 University Lectures presentation
Shen Wei, artistic director of the New York-based Shen Wei Dance Arts and contributor to the Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Beijing, will speak in Feb. 26 University Lectures presentationFebruary 20, 2009Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
On Feb. 24, world-renowned dancer and choreographer Shen Wei and Shen Wei Dance Arts, the company he founded, begin a three-week residency at Syracuse University. Shen and the company will be based at the former Cathedral School in downtown Syracuse as they develop and rehearse a new work, the third piece in a triptych titled “Re-.”
During the residency, Shen and the company will meet with many members of the greater Syracuse community, including dance groups and students from the Syracuse City School District and SU. The Syracuse community at large will have the opportunity to engage with Shen during “A Conversation with Shen Wei,” a University Lectures presentation on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. The event is free and open to the public; reduced-rate parking will be available in the Irving Garage. A sign language interpreter will be available for the lecture.
In the conversation, moderated by former New York Times Chief Dance Critic Anna Kisselgoff, Shen will share his personal story, including reflections on growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution; the creative process and development; the philosophy behind his work; reflections on his contributions to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Beijing; and the development of his new work.
Aside from his work with the company, Shen is also a renowned photographer. He will share a selection of his photographs during the University Lectures presentation.
Shen has been hailed by the Washington Post as “one of the great artists of our time.” In 1995, at age 26, Shen left his native China and traveled to the United States. That year, he presented his work at the prestigious American Dance Festival. An international audience immediately took notice. In 2000, he founded Shen Wei Dance Arts, which has become one of the premier dance ensembles in the world.
The Shen Wei residency is SU’s first extended dance residency, and Shen Wei Dance Arts will be creating this prototype with SU for future extended performing arts residencies. This residency is sponsored by Shen Wei Dance Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Office of the Chancellor and the University Performing Arts Presenter.
“Re-,” the work that will be developed during the residency, complements two of the company’s previous pieces, and the three pieces draw from Shen’s personal experiences and reactions from his time in and study of Tibet, Cambodia and China’s Silk Road. The work developed here during the residency will be debuted at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., in June. The company will return to Syracuse in September to showcase the work in public performances, including The College of Arts and Sciences’ Milton First-Year Lecture.
A native of the Hunan Province in China, Shen is the son of Chinese opera professionals. He left home at age 9 to study opera and subsequently won a position with the Hunan State Xian Opera Company, with which he performed leading roles from 1984-89. As a dancer and choreographer, he became a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first of its kind in China.
After moving to the United States and his debut at the American Dance Festival, Shen produced work seen on stages around the world. Since its inception, Shen Wei Dance Arts has toured extensively on five continents. The company has had repeated engagements at the American Dance Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, the Venice Biennale, Los Angeles Music Center, Het Muziektheater and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Shen has created more than 10 new works, and for each work he creates the set design, costume and makeup designs.
Shen Wei Dance Arts recently finished a residency with Duke University and has a five-year residency with the Kennedy Center. The company is scheduled to perform on three continents this year.
Shen received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award in 2007 and is a United States Artists/Prudential Fellow. He has received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and the American Dance Festival’s Ben Sommer Fellowship, among numerous other awards and commissions.
Now in its eighth year, University Lectures maintains its tradition of bringing to the SU campus some of the most influential movers and shapers from around the world. The series is supported by the generosity of the University’s trustees, alumni and friends. Upcoming lectures in the 2008-09 season include Janine Benyus, biologist and founder of the Biomimicry Institute (March 3 at 4 p.m.) and Robert Ballard, renowned oceanographer and photographer (March 24 at 7:30 p.m.)
For more information, visit http://lectures.syr.edu.