Weng Ling’s Dialogue with Shen Wei
Time: May 2010
Location: New York
All about is natural when dancing.
The artistic path of Shen Wei is a procedure of unconsciousness ‘integrating’ gradually. Everything reaches from his essence as a person from the Orient, and in the nature of his travels around the world to expand and enrich his life. As one of the most well-known dancers in the world, Shen Wei is known for his artistic creations that integrate dance, choreography, visual art, installation, film and other expression media. In his view, “everything is integrated” is the most basic perception of human beings that led to the fundamental motivation of his creation.
Originating from a Hunan opera family, Shen Wei studied with his father to practice calligraphy and brushwork. He presented his first show on the stage at 6-year-old. Before the age of 20, he had cultivated learning the traditional opera. After he arrived in the United States, his encounter with Eastern and Western experiences brought his artistic experiments into a new pattern, making him gradually develop the ‘Natural Body Body Development Technique’, and it also tempered his unique exercise method with his personal aesthetics. In 2000, Shen Wei won the attention of the Western art world with “Folding (Sheng Xi)” and “Near The Terrace, Part I & II (Tian Ti)”. In the same year, he founded the “Shen Wei Dance Arts” in New York and truly entered the mainstream of Western art.
This issue of ‘Arts China’ was recorded in New York twelve years ago. Shen Wei received the Nijinsky Award for Emerging Choreographer in 2004 and, in 2007, he received the MacArthur Award. He is well known to most Chinese audiences as the director and choreographer of the opening segment “Scroll” at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Ceremony. However, he has not yet brought his independently created works to China before the talk. Facing the questions by comprehensive art curator Weng Ling, Shen Wei admitted that the hardships of the stage art road, but also the ultimate love of life – it has already surpassed the binary concept between the East and the West spiritually, and connected with everything and resonating with the same frequency.
In the following twelve years, Shen Wei expanded and enriched his artistic language further. As the dancer he explains in this interview hone day in and day out, he believes that the fullness of life lies in the entire enjoyment and unfolding of the present, not in imagined prospective goals. He admitted that he was in a trance at the curtain call of each show, because in the daily rehearsal he had entered the peak state, and the performance was just a natural presentation.
In the early summer of 2021, Shen Wei launched the world premiere of the new work “Integrate” at the West Bund Artistic Center in Shanghai. It has brought audiences into a new and evolving sensory realm of infinite fusion and experiences. In recent years, Shen Wei has often retreated to Paris, creating, painting, practicing the Guqin, purchasing vegetables and cooking, and entering a more peaceful and deep training phase. In the summer of 2022, he was honoured with American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement. Looking back at the artistic process of Shen Wei started when he was a child, there are overlapping images, continuous absorption and inner return, and it is natural when he dances.