Shen Wei Dance Arts, the internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company led by MacArthur “Genius” Award-winning choreographer Shen Wei, comes to Chicago for the first time September 23 and 24 at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, the Theatre for the People. Celebrated for its “gorgeous visual imagery” (The London Times) and “mesmerizing flow of invention” (The Boston Globe), the company gives Chicago debuts to two of Shen’s signature works, Folding and Rite of Spring.
Shen, who is a visual artist in addition to being a choreographer, is known for his awe-inspiring choreography for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, for which he served as Lead Choreographer. To create works for his company, he draws on influences as varied as traditional Chinese culture and arts, European surrealism, and American modernism.
“It is an honor to present Shen Wei Dance Arts to Chicago for the first time,” says Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, Auditorium Theatre CEO. “I am very excited to see this groundbreaking company bring the most cutting-edge contemporary dance to our National Historic Landmark stage.”
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.
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. The New York Times stated, “It is hard to recall anyone else who has responded to the music with such a striking, stripped-to-the-bone abstraction as Mr. Shen has. This is imagery and conceptualism with a difference…the visual and emotional impact is overwhelming.”
Shen Wei Dance Arts has won worldwide acclaim for “amassing a body of works so strikingly original they defy categorization” (The Boston Globe). Since its founding in 2000, Shen Wei Dance Arts has performed in 140 cities, 33 countries, and five continents. The company has appeared at prestigious festivals and venues worldwide, including the the Lincoln Center Festival, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Festival de Danse, Cannes, Venice Biennales, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Sydney Opera House, the Tel Aviv Opera House, Sadler Wells, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Kennedy Center.
“Shen Wei’s works are suffused with serenity but watching them is exhilarating.” – The Washington Post
“Startlingly imaginative.” – The New York Times
NIB FOUNDATION – International Dance Series Sponsor
Saturday, September 23 | 7:30PM
Sunday, September 24 | 2PM
Tickets start at $29 and are available online at AuditoriumTheatre.org, by phone at 312.341.2300, or in person at the Auditorium Theatre Box Office (50 E Congress Parkway). Shen Wei Dance Arts is part of the International Dance Series, which offers a 30% discounted subscription. The evening may also be added to the Select Your Own subscription, discounted at 20-25%. Discounts available for groups of 10+.
Auditorium Theatre’s 2017-18 Season Upcoming Performances
August 19: Dance for Life
September 11: A Conversation with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
September 19: Jonathan Lee
September 20: Father John Misty
September 23-24: Shen Wei Dance Arts
October 6: Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater
October 18-29: The Joffrey Ballet – Giselle
About The Auditorium Theatre
The Auditorium Theatre, located at 50 E Congress Pkwy in Chicago, is an Illinois, not-for-profit organization committed to presenting the finest in international, cultural, community, and educational programming to all of Chicago and beyond as The Theatre for the People. The organization is also committed to the continued restoration and preservation of the National Historic Landmark.
The Auditorium Theatre 2017-18 Season is made possible in part with support from the MacArthur Foundation and the Palmer House Hilton. Michigan Avenue magazine is the official magazine sponsor. For more information about programming, volunteer, and donor opportunities or theatre tours, call 312.341.2310 or visit AuditoriumTheatre.org. For a complete listing of events at the Auditorium Theatre, please click here.