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Shen Wei Dance Arts to perform for SU's first-year students, Syracuse community

September 14, 2009

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

World-renowned choreographer Shen Wei and his company, Shen Wei Dance Arts (SWDA), will return to Syracuse for public performances of their triptych, titled “Re- (I,II,III),” at the Landmark Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 24, and Friday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. The triptych was developed in part during the company’s residency in Syracuse this past spring.

The performances are part of the inaugural year of the University’s Shared First-Year Experience (, a University-wide program for first-year and transfer students to introduce them to the campus’ vibrant intellectual life. The SWDA performances also will serve as the Milton First-Year Lecture of the First-Year Forum in The College of Arts and Sciences. The Milton lecture program, funded by the Laura Hanhausen Milton Freshman Lecture Endowment, brings a person of national stature to campus each fall to address the new Arts and Sciences entering class.

Syracuse Symposium—a semester-long intellectual and artistic festival celebrating interdisciplinary thinking, imagining and creating, presented by The College of Arts and Sciences to the entire Syracuse community—and the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the University Arts Presenter are also collaborating in presenting the SWDA performances.

A limited number of tickets are now on sale to the public at the Landmark Box Office (475-7979) in downtown Syracuse and the Schine Box Office (443-4517) on the SU campus. Admission is $10 for the general public and $5 for SU faculty, staff and students (with I.D.), seniors over 60, and children younger than 16.

Shen Wei, internationally acclaimed choreographer and a principal choreographer of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies, has been hailed by The Washington Post as “one of the great artists of our time.” Using the prefix “Re-“ to invoke concepts such as “renew,” “rediscover” and “repair,” SWDA’s “Re-“ series—inspired by Shen Wei’s visits to Tibet (Part I), Angkor Wat (Part II) and China’s Silk Road (Part III)—is at once a reconciliation of life split between two hemispheres, a generous spiritual offering and a hopeful plea for intercultural understanding. Shen Wei blends dance, theatre, visual art and Chinese opera to create an artist’s journey through three of the world’s most magnificent societies. The complete triptych was premiered at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., in June, and the New York City premiere was held at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in July.

On Sept. 20-21, prior to the SWDA performances, a Cultural Diplomacy Symposium will be held to explore the importance of cultural understanding and the exchange of ideas, art, information, beliefs, traditions and value systems across the globe. On Sept. 20, the symposium will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Goldstein Auditorium in the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center and will feature performance of Didinga dance and songs by the Lost Boys of Sudan, put into context through a talk by Felicia “Faye” McMahon, and a keynote address by Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. On Sept. 21, a panel discussion on “Transcending Conflict Through Culture” will feature Shen Wei and other distinguished guests from 2-5 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. For more information on the Cultural Diplomacy Symposium, visit

In another related event, from Sept. 21-25, two monks from the Namgyal Monastary Institute in Ithaca, Venerable Tenzin Thuptop and Venerable Lobsang Tashi, will construct a mandala, or sand painting, in the Eggers Commons on the SU campus. The public is welcome to come and watch the construction take place each day, Monday, Sept. 21, through Thursday, Sept. 24, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (lunch break between noon and 1 p.m.), and Friday, Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (lunch break between noon and 1 p.m.). It will also be streamed live at On Friday, Sept. 25, at 3 p.m., the mandala will be ritually destroyed, with its auspicious sands released into Hookway Pond at Barry Park.

The mandala construction is sponsored by The College of Arts and Sciences and the South Asia Center in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

“Re- (I,II,III),” the triptych that Shen Wei Dance Arts will be performing, begins with a mandala (made from confetti) on stage. This will give members of the Syracuse community the opportunity to see the intricate work that goes into the creation of the mandala and understand the significance of the dismantling of it.

Shen Wei, a native of China, was a founding member of the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, the first of its kind in China. After moving to the United States and his debut at the American Dance Festival, Shen has produced work seen on stages around the world. He formed Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2000 and serves as the company’s artistic director. Since its inception, Shen Wei Dance Arts has toured extensively on five continents. Shen has created more than 10 new works, and for each work he creates the set design, costume and makeup designs.

Shen received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2007, is a United States Artists/Prudential Fellow and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. He has received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and the American Dance Festival’s Ben Sommer Fellowship, among numerous other awards.

Shen Wei and SWDA were engaged in a three-week residency at Syracuse University from Feb. 24 to March 16 of this year. In addition to working on the development of the third installment of the “Re-“ triptych, the company held master classes and workshops with members of the SU and greater Syracuse communities. The residency was funded by the New York State Council on the Arts Long-Term Residency Program, and the upcoming performances are supported in part by NYSCA funding.

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