Review-Shen Wei Dance Arts- NVAF


For the closing of this year’s New Vision Arts Festival, the organizer did not only invite the Shen Wei Dance Arts to perform, but also commissioned a site-specific (Cultural Centre foyer) dance piece from the group. Chinese-born, New York-based Shen Wei is perhaps best known as lead choreographer for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in which his scroll-painting dance was one of the many highlights.
The performance started at 9:30pm by design to allow the use of the foyer after the interval. What really surprised me though was the fact that the theatre was only half-full. Limited States, which opened the evening, made use of simple yet exacting design of lights, videos, sounds, scrim, screen, paints and body movement to create a cohesive theatrical piece. The choreography stayed close to the ground with no dramatic leaps or lifts. It was a series of abstract vignettes that played around the concept of reflect and deflect, collect and connect, and select and reject. Whether the dancers were echoing sporadically the movements of the dancer in the video or responding to the movement of the body he or she was sandwiched in-between, the choreography was characterized with fluid, flowing and undulating articulation and isolation of limbs and torso. The effect was a sleek and morphing piece of kinetic sculpture… utterly beautiful.
Excitement was in the air as the audience took their place around the foyer and the gallery of the different floors for the world-premiere of the piece Illuminate. Shen Wei introduced the work and out came the skantily-dressed dancers holding a big ball covered with paint; and that basically introduced the theme of the commissioned piece – paint. 
The work reminded me of finger-painting. The difference, however, was that Shen Wei decided to go beyond the fingers and used the whole body. There was a menagerie of dancers doing all sorts of “painting”. There was the dipping of the whole body in a tub of paint at the top of an inclined plane and slipping and sliding down it. There was the slow-motioned paint wrestling in a box with stretched crisscrossed twines. There were acrylic cages where one can find dancers with paint bouncing off the walls to leave prints of different parts of their body. While the dancers were messing around, members of the audience (the ones who paid a lot) were allowed to walk around them. Personally, I found watching how the audience reacted more insightful and interesting. There was a group of taitai’s that decided to sit down on the steps of the stair and gossip. There were people who went and walked around the dancers and tried very hard not to laugh; and there were also the ones who walked up to the dancers and stared intensely on certain parts of the dancers’ anatomy. 
Illuminate was aptly the closing programme.
Limited States played at the Grand Culutural Center this weekend. It was the closing program of the 2012 New Vision Arts Festival. Photos used in this article are the property of Shen Wei Dance Company and cannot be reused without permission. For more information on this production please click here.

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 2.0


  • Ed Hahn
    19 November 2012

    The SCMP gave it a highly critical review

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