Folding excerpt – Shen Wei Dance Arts

Visually striking these images are from a work choreographed and designed by American Chinese choreographer, Shen Wei. These excerpts are taken from a full work danced by the Shen Wei Dance Arts company that is based in New York. The music is a mix of traditional Tibetan Buddhist Mahakala chants with the celestial harmonies of John Taverner.

A note of interest is that Shen Wei was the choreographer for the opening ceremonies for the Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

Shen Wei is also a visual artist, designer and photographer, which is reflected in the very strong sculptural and visual elements in his work. As an artist he is influcend by elements from nature such as weather movements/changes, the univeral flow/astral bodies in motion, birds, rocks and other elemental forms that move around us. He believes according to Chinese belief, “the artist is the engineer of the soul”.

For the piece in this video, Shen Wei was inpired by his fascination with the act of folding, whether it be paper, fabric or bodies. We see a stark setting on which dancers draped in red and black fabric with extended head dress, move mysteriously in space like other worldly beings.

The movement varies from quick scuttling steps that glide and shift through space to sudden drops, twists, falls and swirls in varying speeds. The dancers hold themselves stiffly like elegant sculptures that move harmoniously in groups or pairs creating beautiful shapes and lines. They remind me of Butoh with it’s strong emphasis on sculpture and unusual aesthetic qualities.

When I watch this piece, especially the dancers in red with their stiff “automated” synchronized movement, I am reminded of the women in red in Margaret Atwood’s book, The Handmaids Tail”. Although visually very beautiful, like the characters in the book, I sense a haunting sensibility.

This is a very beautiful piece, unusual and captivating with expressive and elegant imagery that speaks volumes through combined and meticulous attention to detail.

Sit back and enjoy this visual treat! Then pass it on!


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