Patrons attending Shen Wei Dance Arts performances last month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York may have gotten more than a glimpse into the final section of Limited States, the award-winning choreographer's new dance work, which premieres Thursday through Saturday at the American Dance Festival. As we were going to press, the festival was just releasing the tantalizing first details on the new work, anticipated as one of the high points of ADF's 2011 season. Rumors about a video component designed by Shen are now confirmed; parents may also want to know that the new work involves nudity.
But for the most part, the available information leaves us with an intriguing array of question marks. The program's playbill credits Fake Love, a New York media design firm, with video projection "effects and production." For a group whose "experiential designs" have involved projecting arresting visuals onto a cloud of 500 balloons for Microsoft as well as producing atmospheric animated and video backdrops for Girl Talk and Phantogram's concert tours, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
The 65-minute work is divided into three movements. The first, "Dimensions," is set to an intriguing soundscape including Rossini, NOAA weather reports, ethereal ambient audio by Asher Thal-Nir and decidedly minimal percussion by Jarrod Fowler. The second movement, "0–11," honors the 11 years founding company member Sara Procopio has danced with Shen Wei since first working with him as an ADF student in 2000's Near the Terrace. The solo is set to the controlled feedback of noise composer Daniel Burke's group, Illusion of Safety.
Burke is also credited for the music in the final section, "Internal External #2," based on a similarly named piece that concluded Shen Wei's evening-length performance, Still Moving, at MOMA in June. Critic Rachel Straus commented on the contrasts in that work between "sharp and smooth, slow and fast, balancing and falling [and] solo and group movement," and Burke's "repetitive clanging soundscape [that first] evoked an industrial hell," while Jessica Geiger noted the dancers' "rubberized and revealing suits" in a review for NY Arts magazine. The rest, we learn at DPAC. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday–Saturday. —Byron Woods