MacArthur Fellowship recipient Shen Wei, who was lead choreographer for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has been widely celebrated for his sophisticated choreography, lighting designs and minimalist costumes, recognized for his abstract paintings and, most recently, for his work in film. Praise for the breadth of his artistic versatility, vision and talent has earned Shen Wei numerous commissions and awards, including 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. The Washington Post has called Shen Wei "One of the great artists of our time" and The New York Times states that, "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."
Born in Hunan, China, Shen Wei studied Chinese opera from the age of nine. In 1991, he became a founding dancer and choreographer of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first modern dance company in China. In 1995, he received a scholarship from the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab and moved to New York City, where in July 2000 he formed Shen Wei Dance Arts. After premiere performances of “Near the Terrace” at the American Dance Festival, Shen Wei’s work was soon seen in Taiwan, at New York’s Asia Society, The Space in London, the Stockholm Dance House, the Brighton Arts Festival, the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, and the Millennium Moves Festival in Germany.
Since forming his company, Shen Wei has received twelve commissions from the American Dance Festival, and others from the Amsterdam Music Theatre, New York City Opera, Lincoln Center Festival, Park Avenue Armory, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Edinburgh International Festival, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and Teatro Dell’Operadi Roma for a restaging of Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto, conducted by Riccardo Muti. Shen Wei was the first choreographer ever commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create a work specifically for one of its galleries, which was performed by his company this past June when it premiered Still Moving.
Providing a home for the company during its 2012 season, Shen Wei was recently selected as a fellow for New York City Center’s inaugural Choreography Fellowship Program, a new initiative being launched in conjunction with the theater’s reopening season following a major restoration of the historic venue.
The Amsterdam Music Theatere presented several works by Shen Wei. In 2009 Wild Cursive, in 2007 Second Visit to The Empress, in 2005 Connect Transfer en in 2003 Rite of Spring and Folding.