West Coast Premiere
Shen Wei Dance Arts
Thu, Mar 21 • 8 pm
Fri, Mar 22 • 8 pm
Sat, Mar 23 • 5 & 8 pm
Sun, Mar 24 • 2 & 5 pm
Advance tickets: $25 Regular • $20 students, seniors, teachers
At the door: $30 Regular • $25 students, seniors, teachers
$20 YBCA members
FREE for YBCA:You
Thrifty Thursday, Mar 21 only: All seats $10
“A vivid fusion of East and West, of Chinese opera and modern dance informed by the keen eye of a painter.”
“Undivided Divided is a whirlwind tour-de-force… an exhilarating experience for the dancers as much as for the crowd.”
Best known for his stunning choreography of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Shen Wei was a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, China’s first contemporary dance company. He has been widely celebrated for his sophisticated choreography, breathtakingly powerful cross-cultural performances and gorgeous visual imagery and was hailed by the The Washington Post as "one of the great artists of our time.” The company’s newest piece, Undivided Divided, is a unique performance installation, comprised of a grid divided into 36 squares inhabited by eighteen dancers. Audience members are invited to stroll amongst moving “displays” of painted dancers, projected videos and sculptural installations. Set to an original score by Sō Percussion and concrete sound design by Lawson White, the multimedia work envelopes the audience not only through its spatial design but also via multi-track sound creating an exciting new type of immersive interaction between audience and performer.
Running time: 35 minutes.
Among the many sublime side effects of falling in love is the implicit permission we receive from our lovers to take an extended impression of their bodies. To look without shame upon the human form and to grant your opposite the gift of being seen. Undivided Divided echoes this transparency, played out across 36 cubes and 18 dancers within 7,000 square feet of newly realized potent space. It achieves the urgent daring of lingering witness without the correlative consequence of emotional pitfall. Rather, the artists risk everything for the sake of your safety in gazing. They become one with a kaleidoscope of color in a setting as intimate as the almost-touch of two pedestrians in the rain…
It’s pouring in New York and I’ve got Olympic-sized choreography in my head. I’m inside a Shen Wei painting, coloring between the lines among an impossibly adaptive instant community at the Park Avenue Armory. This kind of beautiful takes a village to grow it; the artist’s mind is fertile ground.
Two weeks after the premiere I attended of Undivided Divided, I was named Director of Performing Arts at YBCA. Two weeks after starting work here, Shen Wei came to San Francisco to walk through our building with Ken Foster and me. Say what you want about fate, but it don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine…
First light signals advancing Spring. At the verge of vernal equinox, Undivided Divided is an awakening unto poem; unspoken…heard…
The piece re-visits Shen Wei’s expert knack for painting dance, literally, and using collective consciousness as canvas. His work has made him one of the best-regarded choreographers on the planet, evidenced by his company’s presence on five different continents this season. And yet amidst that profound global reach, this particular work is only having one showing west of the Appalachian Mountains, and that’s here at YBCA. It is a coup for us, and a win for Bay Area arts lovers, an approximate viewing of an artist in love with the complexity of the body at work.
Internationally recognized for the breadth and scope of his artistic vision, Shen Wei is a prolific choreographer and stage director; set, costume, lighting and make-up designer; painter and filmmaker. The Washington Times has called Shen Wei “One of the great artists of our time” and The New York Times proclaimed, “If there is something to write home about in the dance world, it is the startlingly imaginative work of the Chinese-born choreographer Shen Wei.”
Admiration for his talent has earned Shen Wei numerous 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 for creation of one of the year’s best dance performances.
Born in Hunan, China, Shen Wei studied Chinese opera from the age of nine. In I99I, he became a founding dancer and choreographer of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern dance company in China. In I995, he received a scholarship from Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and moved to New York City. In July 200I, he formed Shen Wei Dance Arts with performances of Near the Terrace at the American Dance Festival.
One of the premier international dance companies, Shen Wei Dance Arts has won worldwide acclaim for its cross-cultural performances. Its works have been described as “breathtaking, powerful, and riveting” (The Boston Globe) and are celebrated for their “gorgeous visual imagery” (The London Times). The work Shen Wei makes for his company draws on influences from traditional Chinese culture and arts; European surrealism; American high modernism; and the ritual power of ancient drama. He creates dances for the stage with the compositional rigor of a visual artist incorporating striking design, film and imaginative use of space into theatrical, kinetic paintings.
Shen Wei Dance Arts has performed in 138 cities in 28 countries on 4 continents, frequently appearing at such premier festivals and venues as the Venice Biennale, Het Muziektheater, Edinburgh International Festival, the Barbican Centre, Sadler’s Wells, Melbourne International Art Festival, the Montpellier International Dance Festival, the Berliner Festpiele, Jacob’s Pillow, Spoleto USA, and the American Dance Festival. The Company is enjoying a unique five-year performance residency at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC and gave the first dance performances on the concert stage at Frank Gehry’s Disney Hall in Los Angeles. The Company performs annually in NYC, where it has been presented by Lincoln Center Festival (five times), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Park Avenue Armory, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, and Fall for Dance at City Center.
At home and on tour, the company engages in cultural diplomacy and activities promoting intercultural understanding, leading talkbacks, symposia, and master classes. Since 2008, Shen Wei Dance Arts has presented arts-in-education programs in the NYC public schools, relating dance and visual arts to curriculum-based goals, serving over 400 students annually.
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Undivided Divided was commissioned by and premiered in the Park Avenue Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall November-December, 2011. The new work benefited greatly from the Armory’s Artist-in-Residence program where, for 16-months Shen Wei and the company had access to free studio space. In recognition of additional major support toward the creation of Undivided Divided, the company extends its deepest gratitude to Richard Feldman and The SHS Foundation for bold and heroic leadership through a profoundly generous challenge grant. The company also wishes to thank the Shen Wei Dance Arts’ Benefactors’ Council, which matched The SHS Foundation’s generous challenge. Platinum Benefactors’ Circle: Silas and Celia Chou; William E. and Helen Y. Little; Shirley Young; Gold Benefactors’ Circle: Susan L. Baker and Michael Lynch; Anla Cheng and Mark Kingdon; Silver Benefactors’ Circle: Carrie C. Chiang, Mary Sharp Cronson, Caroline and Paul Cronson; Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller; Susan Kessler; Younghee Kim-Wait; and the Jade Benefactors’ Circle: Jody and John Arnhold; Sandra Eu; and Angel Lee (Sheng). Additional lead support was provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Winston Foundation, the Shubert Foundation, the Fund for the City of New York, The New York Community Trust, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Significant in-kind support was donated through a unique artist residency from Mana Contemporary (Jersey City, NJ), providing the artist with a rehearsal space large enough to stage and rehearse Undivided Divided scalable to the Armory’s expansive Drill Hall where the work was premiered.
In ongoing support of its mission, the company wishes to thank Rebecca Robertson and Park Avenue Armory; Jodee Nimerichter and the American Dance Festival; Arlene Schuler and New York City Center; Nigel Redden and the Lincoln Center Festival; Alicia Adams and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Mary Sharp Cronson and Works & Process at the Guggenheim; and Thomas Campbell, Limor Tomer, Lisa Doyle, Peggy Fogelman, and Concerts and Lectures at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The company’s dancers wish to thank Dr. Lilia Gorodinsky, D.O. and Dr. David S. Weiss, M.D., for their healing arts.
Finally, the company wishes to extend special thanks to these individuals for their distinguished support of Shen Wei Dance Arts: Jaap van Baasbank, Leslie Bachrach, Gie Baguet, Claudia Bauer, Sarah Bodley, Patty Bryan, Rohit Burman, Dick Caples, David Claps, Mary Cochran, Laura Colby, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Duke Deng, Robert Dorf, Barbara Dufty, Leonard Easter, Esq., Brett Egan, Jen Emken, Daniel Feinstein, Richard Feldman, Kyle Ferguson, Chantel Foretich, Boo Froebel, Roberto Garcia, Brian Taylor Goldstein, Esq., Julia Glawe, Stephen Greco, Mara Greenberg, Lawrence W. Greene, Esq., Liz Harler, David Harrison, John Heintz, Esq., Huong Hoang, Joe Hsu, Meinrad Huber, Keith Jameson, Christie Jeffers, Michael Kaiser, Richard Kass, Esq., Paul Kellogg, Jan Krukowski and Nancy Harrow, Janice M. Lee and Stuart Shapiro, Esq., Ang Lee, Gene Lemay, Stanford Makishi, Moishe Mana, Mary McCormick, Steven R. Narker, Martha Neighbors, Gillian Newson, Harold Norris, France Pepper, Anthony Ponzio, Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Herbert and Ernestine Ruben, David and Suzanne Cohn Simon, Sydney Skybetter, George Steel, Maria Rita Stumpf, John Tomlinson, Nancy Umanoff, Lulu Wang, Lory Yan, Ichun Yeh, Shirley Young, and Francesca Zitoli.
Shen Wei Dance Arts uses the fiscal administrative services provided by Pentacle (Dance Works, Inc.), a service organization for the performing arts. Legal Services provided by Lawrence W. Greene, Esq. Shen Wei Dance Arts, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization in the State of New York, USA.
YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Arts
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.
YBCA Performance 12-13 is made possible in part by:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 12-13:
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Panta Rhea Foundation
New England Foundation for the Arts
and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts