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Body Language

June 29, 2009

By JAMIN BROPHY-WARREN
WSJ June 26, 2009

To take a brief break from his work as a choreographer, Shen Wei-winner of a
MacArthur "genius" grant, and the lead creative consultant for the opening
ceremonies at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing-headed to Tibet. Born in
China, he had long been familiar with the region's steppes, Buddhist temples
and mountainous landscape, but what he found there during his trip in 2005
took his breath away-literally.

Some places are 4,000 meters above sea level. It's so high that you need
oxygen," says Mr. Wei. "Your body was so calm and yet your brain worked so
fast."

His trip to Tibet contributed to one section of a three-part performance Mr.
Wei will present at Lincoln Center starting July 9. Each section of the show
will encompass a different portion of Mr. Wei's travels. The other two
sections were inspired by the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, and
China's Silk Road. Mr. Wei entitled the triptych "Re-" to suggest rebirth or
renewal.

Born in a rural village in Hunan, China, the 41-year-old choreographer left
home at the age of nine to begin to study dance. By the age of 30, he had
shown his work at the American Dance Festival. Last year, he and his company
were commissioned to create pieces for the opening ceremony of the Olympics
in Beijing.

Mr. Wei's work draws on modern dance and his Chinese roots. The movements of
his dancers sometimes suggests the stylized steps of performers in Chinese
operas, or the flowing strokes of a calligraphy brush.

To translate his Tibetan journey into his choreography, he showed the
dancers in his troupe thousands of pictures and videos from his travels.
"How you can transform that information to your body language? The
transition isn't easy," say Mr Wei.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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