Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
50 E. Congress Parkway
Chicago, IL 60605
September 23, 2017 at 7:30PM September 24, 2017 at 2PM Celebrated for its “gorgeous visual imagery” (The London Times) and “mesmerizing flow of invention” (The Boston Globe), Shen Wei Dance Arts makes its Chicago debut with two masterpieces by MacArthur “Genius” Award-winning choreographer and visual artist Shen Wei, known for his awe-inspiring choreography for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Folding conjures up a dreamlike world at once ancient and timeless that draws “gasps of wonder and contemplation” from the audience (San Francisco Chronicle).
The groundbreaking Rite of Spring, set to Stravinsky’s famed score, brings the fresh eye of the outsider to this well-known music. Shen jettisons all narrative, responding instead with a highly charged abstraction. “The visual and emotional impact is overwhelming,” says The New York Times. Folding Set to ethereal music by John Tavener and traditional Tibetan Buddhist Mahakala chants, Folding conjures up a dreamlike, surreal world. Against a vast backdrop painted by Shen Wei and modeled on an 18th Century Chinese watercolor by Bada Shanren, dancers glide onto a white, glowing floor, amassing as though called to partake in an ancient ritual, familiar and yet unknown. The otherworldly costumes – dancers clad in long red and black skirts, donning conical headdresses and white make-up (all designed by Shen Wei) – heighten the sense of mystery and ritual throughout the piece.
This seminal work by Shen was honored with a 2011 National Endowment of the Arts American Masterpiece Award. Rite of Spring Shen Wei’s groundbreaking Rite of Spring departs from the narrative of Nijinsky’s original ballet and offers a vigorous formal investigation of the pounding chords and rhythms in Stravinsky’s famed score, here performed to the composer’s Four-Hand Piano Version of Le Sacre du Printemps, arranged by pianist Fazil Say. The dance takes place on a grey and white geometric floor painting. As the music builds momentum, the dancers spiral, spin, and cork-screw effortlessly to the floor.