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Reviews

Shen Wei Dance Arts: Connect Transfer

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Presented as part of Lincoln Center Festival 2004 at Alice Tully Hall, 1941 Broadway, NYC, July 14-17.

It was so quiet during the performance of Shen Wei Dance Arts at Alice Tully Hall that the proverbial pin dropping would have been like a thunderclap. Peace and serenity laced the seemingly effortless choreography, yet there was plenty of action from the dancers, all carefully pushing, pulling, shaping, and carrying out Shen Wei's considerable ideas. His brilliance stems from what looks like economy of movement but is really a collection of spine-chilling, full-blown phrases based on his uncanny ability to seamlessly thread choreography together.

In the first part of "Connect Transfer," the dancers shape themselves into sculpted pieces with slow, deliberate placing of their limbs, more like the vintage Sankai Juku or Eiko & Koma. Heads investigate armpits; bodies turn themselves inside out and oddly balance or interlock against each other to the exquisite music of Kevin Volans' "String Quartet No. 6." In the second section, we are treated to the remarkable artistry of Stephen Gosling at the piano urging the dancers into jumps, turns, and fancy footwork with a percussive "Evryali" by Iannis Xenakis, followed by György Ligeti's "Sonatina: II—Andante, Monument." The arms swing in full-rounded circles, the bodies have seizure-type movements on the floor of the stage, but it is the painting that becomes a stunning intervention, like a child's dream of finger-painting on Mother's white carpet.

At intervals, each dancer, with a mitt of dripping paint on one hand, crawls to the stage and begins to swirl his or her arm on the stretched white drop cloth serving as a stage covering. Before the evening is over, the white cloth has become a Jackson Pollock canvas—a comforter of colored curlicues. "Connect Transfer" connects painting, dance, and music in Shen Wei's exceptional manner, resulting in a totally compelling, unexpectedly un-Asian piece of completely original style and dazzling invention.

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