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Monday, October 3, 2016

In Context: Neither

Celebrated choreographer and painter Shen Wei (Park Avenue Armory, 2011; 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony) makes his much-anticipated BAM debut with this danced realization of Morton Feldman’s 1977 anti-opera for orchestra and soprano. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of related articles and videos. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #ShenWei.

Program Notes

Neither (PDF)


From Olympics to Neither (BAM blog)
Consider this comprehensive background on Shen Wei’s evolution as a visual and dance artist your well-written alternative to Wikipedia.

Feldman meets Beckett (Bloomsbury Publishing)
A delightful nugget of history that covers Morton Feldman’s meeting with Samuel Beckett—two opera haters determined to write an opera.

A Guide to Morton Feldman's Music (The Guardian)
Some background on the music of the always defiant Morton Feldman.

Watch & Listen

The unforgettable 2008 Beijing Opening Ceremony (YouTube)
Shen Wei served as lead creative consultant.

CBS Profile of Shen Wei (YouTube)
Produced for the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Three excerpts from Shen Wei's work with his own and other dance companies:

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #ShenWei.


  1. Powerful...immensely engaging...joined to both text and music, yet hour of inspired motion.

  2. Beautiful and thought-provoking. Some of it very complex, and some of it elegant and simple. Loved the music too, though very glad I did not have to sing that score -- ouch!

  3. Interesting and I'm glad I saw it, but the recorded score was turned up way too loud. The opening in Feldman's score is very, very quiet, but in the performance the music was turned up to a very high volume; thus distorting the music's impact. A quiet dissonance is very different than a very loud one! But perhaps it needed to be loud for the dancers to hear it well.

  4. I did not like this show. Nothing was appealing.

  5. Great performance, concepts and dancing were so beautiful. You can really see Shenwei's distinctive 'language' of movement throughout. I did feel however that it could have been half as long and would have been more effective. The trio in last half was tedious. Koppe is just an amazing amazing performer.

  6. I have no idea what the fuck was going on.

  7. Could not relate to the first half. But the second half for me was mesmerizing!

  8. It was a great production expressing through dance the inner working of the mind both from the position of an observer who is half asleep and as one fully awake, aware and engaged in the creative aspects of an open mind symbolized by the open doors and the birth of new ideas.

  9. Outstanding. Please have Shen Wei back many more times - such a gifted artist. One note of contention: BAM please have your ushers admonish cell phone users during the performance. I was unfortunately sat next to a group of teens on a school trip (?) who were using their phones as lights to take notes on the performance. It was terribly distracting and rude of them, and as I did not want to disrupt the performance, couldn't get up to go over and admonish them myself. I wish BAM as well as other theatres would take this to heart. It is not enough to make an announcement beforehand about phone usage. You must have a policy where this kind of disruption is met with warnings and ejection. It is the only way we will regain some decorum.

    Back to the performance, it was mesmerizing and so worthy of Next Wave status. Truly pushing the state of the dance art forward. Downright unnerving the way great boundary pushing art should be. Dancers were some of the most agile and dextrous I've ever seen. This is the highest quality production. More Shen Wei at BAM! It needs to happen.


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