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Wen Wei Wang and Flying white

Wen Wei Wang, Artistic Director of Wen Wei Dance, is one of our Artists-in-Residence this season: we asked him to tell us about his new work Flying white – 飞白, a collaboration with Turning Point Ensemble.

Dance entered my life at the age of six when I first saw a ballet performance in the industrial city of Xi’an, China, where I was born. I clearly remember a beautiful girl running away to a mountain where her hair turned white. Then a Communist soldier found her and brought her back to her village. They fell in love. That was the first ballet I saw, and I will always remember returning home to borrow my mother’s white silk scarf to put around my head and I danced the solo I remember from the white-haired girl.  After twenty years I ran away from communist China to Vancouver, Canada, to start my life as a dance artist. I danced with Judith Marcuse Dance Company and Ballet British Columbia. In 2003 Wen Wei Dance was formed.

Flying white is a rare and extraordinary form of Chinese calligraphy that jumps and leaps on the paper surface in graceful beautiful strokes, the black ink revealing a white background.  Mobile and delicate, flying white is like meteors passing through the sky, or hair fluttering in the wind. Flying white – 飞白, is co-created with Owen Underhill (Artistic Director of Turning Point Ensemble) and composer Dorothy Chang, and is inspired by the motion and aesthetic of this calligraphy and the philosophy of the elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water.  The work explores the space between black and white, between inhale and exhale, between east and west, and between sound and movement.

The piece integrates six dancers and an intercultural ensemble of twelve musicians, interacting on stage with each other and representations of elements including rice, paper, water, silk, and ink. I have lived in Canada since 1991 and my work always reflects my cultural background. Flying white is a challenge and new to me because it is not just a dance show, the musicians will be on stage with our dancers. I hope they can blend into one, cooperate with each other, and make dance and music like flesh and blood.

As a choreographer in the creative process, I am looking for a process in the between, just like Flying white, how to control our body and breathing, to able to frame the movement in the middle, to create the space in between. It no longer treats the body as a narrative tool but returns to the body itself. The body becomes a dancer to express oneself, explore one’s own language, convey emotions and energy in the body’s rhythm, and understand time and space in the body’s construction.  Through the movement of the body, we changed the way of feeling and cognition of space. The body and space together form an ideological field and an emotional field, giving the audience unlimited imagination and completing the spiritual dialogue and energy with the viewer.


Turning Point Ensemble, SFU Woodward’s and PuSh International Performing Arts Festival present
Wen Wei Dance and Turning Point Ensemble
Flying white – 飞白
January 31-February 1, 2020 | 7.30pm
February 2, 2020 | 2pm
Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU Woodwards: Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W Hastings St, Vancouver

Info and Tickets
Supported through the Artist-in-Residence program
Photos: Emily Cooper and Shin Sugino, Sugino Studios