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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 17, 2006

Shen Wei Dance Arts Brings 'Action Paintings' To Hancher Stage Feb. 1

The University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium will treat the Iowa dance audience to one of the most striking artists to emerge on the international dance scene in recent years when it presents the "action paintings" of Shen Wei Dance Arts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1.

The program features two contrasting works by the New York-based Chinese dancer, choreographer, painter, filmmaker and designer: "The Rite of Spring," a wholly original response to Stravinsky's music that was one of the New York Times 10 best dance events of 2003; and "Folding," set to the mystical music of John Tavener and the chanting of Tibetan monks.

Hailed as one of the most exciting new talents of the 21st century, Shen Wei was trained in classical Chinese opera, and was a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, China's first modern-dance company. After coming to the United States, he first attracted national attention at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., in 1995. He formed his company in 2000, and in addition to its popularity on the festival circuit, the company has found a New York home at the Lincoln Center Festival.

Shen Wei Dance Arts has astounded international audiences with an uncategorizable hybrid of modern dance with Chinese dance, theater, opera, painting, calligraphy and sculpture. "I wasn't taught the arts separately, so I don't separate them in my work," he says. "I'm looking for a new way to communicate."

"There was something new at work here," said a Miami Herald review. "That something may be real genius." In response to the New York premiere of "The Rite of Spring," New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff announced "the advent of a strikingly original artist who fits into no familiar category. . . . the visual and emotional impact is overwhelming."

When Shen Wei Dance Arts opened the Israel Festival, Meirav Yudelovich wrote: "Shen Wei's stage is designed, as is the movement. Both of them -- the stage and the movement -- are constantly changing before the audience's eyes. It is impossible to relate to Shen Wei's work from the narrow angle of the dance language only, because it is about visual art which crosses artistic boundaries, styles, geographic frontiers and time. It draws on the present and the past and creates a new dimension in an unknown time.

"'Folding' is an exceptionally aesthetic work, rich and full of imagination, but its central quality is its slow breathing rhythm which enables a descent to the depth of the movement and genuine delight from each and every scene. Especially fascinating is the nightmare scene of 'Folding' constructed in complete darkness during which the dancers create a visual illusion of a priestly choir floating up to heaven."

The Shen Wei Dance Arts performance in Hancher is supported by Gary A. and LaDonna K. Wicklund, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $40/38/35; UI student $36/15; senior citizen $36/34.20/31.50; youth $28/26.60/24.50.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail:

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

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