New York’s Shen Wei Dance Arts Makes Western Canadian Premiere at VIDF 2018

Internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company set to perform strikingly original & spellbinding works that defy categorization

Vancouver International Dance Festival proudly presents the Western Canadian Premiere of New York-based contemporary dance company, Shen Wei Dance Arts, on March 2 & 3, 2018 at 8pm at the Vancouver Playhouse. Widely celebrated for their mesmerizing movement, arresting beauty and elegant expression, the 12-member ensemble will leave an indelible impression with the presentation of two Western Canadian premieres: Folding and Rite of Spring from Artistic Director and choreographer Shen Wei. Drawing on his Chinese heritage and prowess as a visual artist, these works fuse Eastern and Western cultures, incorporating vivid colours, striking design, and imaginative use of space into theatrical, kinetic paintings.

“Shen Wei’s immense talent and unique point of view has put him at the forefront of his field. His work represents a harmonious blending of disparate cultures, giving birth to something entirely new and surprising,” says Barbara Bourget, Co-Producer of VIDF. “In these two outstanding works, you will see how evocative the human body can be, both as a tool of physical expression and as a means of spiritual transcendence. Audiences will be captivated by Shen Wei’s gorgeous visual imagery and cutting-edge choreography performed by some of the most gifted dancers in the world.”

Born in the Hunan province in China, Shen Wei has been hailed as “one of the great artists of our time” (The Washington Times). In his youth he trained in Chinese opera performance and traditional Chinese ink painting and calligraphy, as well as in Western art and modern dance.

Now an acclaimed choreographer and visual artist, Shen Wei has created works for prestigious dance companies across the

globe, and was also selected as the principle choreographer for the 2008 Bejing Olympics Opening Ceremonies. The recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, Shen Wei is universally admired for the breadth and scope of his artistic vision.

The 2018 Vancouver International Dance Festival will present two anticipated Western Canadian premieres from Shen Wei Dance Arts:


A study in meditative minimalism, Folding is an otherworldly dreamscape set to Tibetan Buddhist chanting melded with prolific English composer John Tavener’s Last Sleep of the Virgin for Bells and String Quartet. Originally commissioned by the Guangdong Modern Dance Company in 1999, Shen Wei recreated the work for his own company in 2003, premiering it at the American Dance Festival. It is a work of captivating simplicity and control that exemplifies the boundless depth of Shen Wei’s genius, not only in the choreography, but also in the design of the sets, costumes, and makeup. The dancers, clad in androgynous costumes with conical headpieces, display an almost inhuman elegance as they glide across the stage, at once serene and intoxicating. Their sinuous, uncanny grace is a testament to Shen Wei’s unparalleled vision and revolutionary innovation.

In 1995, a fellowship from the Louis-

Nikolais Dance Lab brought him to New York, where he has lived ever since.


Rite of Spring

Choreographed in 2002, Rite of Spring is a compelling abstract interpretation performed to Stravinsky’s 4-hand piano version of his iconic score, in a recording by Fazil Say. Shen Wei brings a fresh sensibility to this well-known music by creating a fascinating physical calligraphy. The dancers spiral and swirl across the stage with an exuberance and lyricism that celebrates their athleticism and exhilarating artistry. Blending the physical vocabulary of Chinese opera seamlessly with western modern dance, Shen Wei creates an emotionally-charged experience unlike any other. This virtuosic tour-de-force embodies the tension between a rigid geometric formalism and a pulsating energy that cannot be contained.

Tickets to Shen Wei Dance Arts are available online at

About Shen Wei Dance Arts (
Founded in New York in 2000, Shen Wei Dance Arts has performed in 138 cities, in 33 countries, across five continents, consistently garnering rave reviews. Drawing on a range of influences including Chinese arts and culture, European Surrealism, American high modernism, and the ritual power of ancient drama, the company has forged a startling new hybrid form of dance. The dancers have been extolled as, “a breed apart: lissome, precise, expressive – and totally at one with Shen Wei’s choreography” (The Herald, Scotland).

About Vancouver International Dance Festival (
The Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) is a social-profit, artist-run organization dedicated to supporting and furthering the art of culturally diverse contemporary dance. Each year the Festival scours the globe, and its own backyard, to assemble a month of emotionally rich and intellectually stimulating dance expressions. In doing so, the Festival functions as an important link between Vancouver and a vibrant, international community of artists, ensuring world-class contemporary dance will always have a place in the hearts and minds of Vancouver audiences.


Dates: Tickets :

Address: Box Office: Website:

2018 Vancouver International Dance Festival

March 2 & 3, 2018, at 8pm

Adults $65, Seniors/Students $55, Groups of 10 or more $45 (please call VIDF box office at 604·662·4966 for group sales).

Vancouver Playhouse
600 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 2P1


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