NORTH ADAMS -- Inventive, contemporary ensemble Shen Wei Dance Arts blends a signature movement vocabulary with elements of film, theater, new media and visual arts in a performance on Oct. 26 and 27 in Mass MoCA’s venerable Hunter Center for the Performing Arts, a collaborative presentation with Jacob’s Pillow Dance. Led by Chinese-born American choreographer Shen Wei, the program includes Wei’s interpretation of "Rite of Spring" (2003), in honor of the original production’s 100th year, and a striking new work, "Collective Measures" (2013). The company’s performances celebrate the final weekend of Mass MoCA’s monumental "Xu Bing: Phoenix" exhibition.
Widely known for the international acclaim he received as principal choreographer for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shen Wei is revered for the broad span of his artistic vision as a prolific choreographer; stage director; set, costume, lighting, and make-up designer; painter; and filmmaker. The Boston Globe has called his chromatic, movement-based spectacles "a vivid fusion of East and West, of Chinese opera and modern dance informed by the keen eye of a painter."
Born in Hunan, China, Shen Wei began training in Chinese opera at the age of nine. In 1991, he became a founding dancer and choreographer of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern dance company in China.
Shen Wei’s talent is revered, earning him many commissions and awards, including a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the U.S. Artists Fellow award, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Nijinsky Award, Australia’s Helpmann Award for Best Ballet or Dance Work, and two recognitions from The New York Times citing the creation of one of the year’s best dance performances.
To mark the centenary of the Paris premiere of the original "Rite of Spring," Shen Wei Dance Arts will perform its rendition of this seminal work in a two-part program.
Also on the bill is the newly created Collective Measures - Wei’s salient exploration of personal separation within the physical proximity of others. Meticulously designed, the work surpasses convention and delves into an uncommon, private space through its ambient sound score and surreal visual effects. In collaboration with Wei, American fashion designer Austin Scarlett, best known for his appearances on Project Runway’s first season and 2012’s Project Runway All Stars, designed and fabricated the costumes for this scene. The gifted dancers of Shen Wei Dance Arts trained at North Carolina School for the Arts, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase. They have also performed with a variety of contemporary dance companies, including recent Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival artists BODYTRAFFIC and Abraham.In.Motion.
Shen Wei Dance Arts is a fitting farewell to Chinese sculptor Xu Bing’s storied "Phoenix" exhibition. The more than 20-ton sculptures have been hanging from the rafters of Mass MoCA’s signature, football field-size gallery since December 2012 in their first appearance outside of China. Fabricated entirely from materials harvested from construction sites in Beijing, the mythic birds bear witness to the complex interconnection between art, labor and capital.
Record numbers of museum visitors are mesmerized by "the birds," part of a larger exhibition of key works by Xu Bing, on view through Oct. 27.
Performances will take place on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 27, at 3 p.m. in the Hunter Center at Mass MoCA. Galleries are open until 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. On Sunday, Oct. 27, the galleries are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This program contains partial nudity. Ticket prices are $39 premium, $32 orchestra, $20 mezzanine, and $18 for students. Tickets can be ordered through the Mass MoCA Box Office or reserved online. Mass MoCA is located on Marshall Street. For tickets and info: by 413-662-2111 ext. 1, massmoca.org.