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About the Author
Ken Smith currently divides his time between New York (where he writes for Gramophone magazine) and Hong Kong (where he serves as the Asian–performing arts critic for the Financial Times). He is Co–Music Director of the recordings Dong Folk Songs and Miao Music for China's MediaFusion Group, and he won an ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award in 2008 for his liner notes to Gil Shaham's recording of The Butterfly Lovers Concerto for Violin. Ken is also the author of Fate! Luck! Chance!, published in 2008 by Chronicle Books.

Ancient Paths, Modern Voices Blog

Chinese Calligraphy as Complete Art

That thing about qin music being “a literary art” cuts both ways. There’s also a great musical sense—or at the very least, a clear sense of rhythm and form—inherent in fine Chinese calligraphy, which Lin Hwai-min, founder of Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, has called “the epitome of Chinese culture” for its combination of both literal verbal meaning and visual elegance in a frozen frame of motion.

While Lin’s Cursive trilogy turned the latent energy of still, calligraphic characters into living, dramatic ones, the much-younger choreographer Shen Wei mined the same field from the other direction: his Connect Transfer was essentially “dancing a painting” executed on a floor cloth using ink-soaked clothing. Appropriately enough, Shen (who studied calligraphy as a child) has also developed something of a reputation as a proper painter, his artwork having been shown in New York and Hong Kong (the latter in conjunction with a local appearance of his company, Shen Wei Dance Arts). “All art forms are related to each other,” says Shen, who will offer insights into his working process as part of the Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process series.

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Footage of Shen Wei Dance Arts performing Connect Transfer II

Posted by Ken Smith

© 2001-2009 Carnegie Hall Corporation

Chinese Translation (Traditional Characters)
Chinese Translation (Simplified Characters)