15 - 18 October 2003 8.00pm
Reviewer: R M Pink
Wen Wei Wang
Former Ballet BC dancer and now choreographer, Wen Wei Wang, launched an ambitious new work this week, TAO, at the Firehall Theatre in Vancouver.
TAO is ballet experimentation pure and simple. A child of the violent cultural revolution in China, Wang grew up with strict ballet training in a regimented and tightly controlled society.
His training and early performances in China as a ballet dancer focused solely on Chinese ballets. Western influences were banned during the Cultural Revolution which was also notable for repression against political, social and intellectual thought.
Thus life in Canada for Wang became a journey of personal as well as artistic freedom. This journey is reflected in the work, TAO, which is experimental ballet without borders. It is raw and seemingly undisciplined.
TAO is a first work for Wang's new dance company, Wen Wei Dance and at times demonstrates a lack of maturity and refinement.
A ballet tells a story.
According to Wang, "TAO reveals a circular journey, the path from one world to another.TAO is the past between two distant parts of the world through time and space. "In TAO, there was no thread to connect the variations from piece to piece. Instead of a story, TAO was sometimes lost in a series of movements without context to the central theme.
Yet dance and choreography are evolving arts and Wang definitely shows creative talent. He has portrayed movement more clearly that many choreographers who often rely on elaborate costumes, lighting, scenery and other visual technology to tell a story.
Wang's ballet is naked and uncluttered. It brings ballet back to the central element, which is how the body moves.
The dancers, Chengxin Wei, Paulina Kee, Karissa Barry, Christopher Duban, Desiree Dunbar and Wen Wei Wang were strong and technically on the mark. They portrayed the themes of nature and industrialization well.
The visual montage by filmmakers Giorgio Magnanensi and Dustin Lindblad, Claudia Paez and Felipe Verdugo was arresting and memorable. It blended well with the themes raised in the ballet and had a great musical score.
Dancer Chengxin Wei, who trained in China and came to Canada in 2000, was outstanding. He is a vibrant dancer with great expression and beautiful movement. He has the rare ability to exude the emotions of the story he is dancing.
© 2003, R M Pink