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Chinese Choreographer and Solo Dancer Yu Wei Opens Artists Series

RELEASED: Sept. 11, 2008

Yu Wei
Yu Wei

EAU CLAIRE — Chinese choreographer and solo dancer Yu Wei will open the 2008-09 season of the Artists Series Sept. 24 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The Yu Wei Chinese Dance Collection will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Fire Room of Davies Center. A question-and-answer session and reception will follow the performance.

"Yu Wei's dancing is all fluidity and grace," wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer. "There are strains of ballet, folk and modern dance throughout her program — she is adept at them all."

Yu Wei is influenced by the synergy between dance, poetry and music that flourished during the Tang dynasty (618-907). She uses a combination of natural observation, folk tradition and her classical training to create pieces that are filled with vivid imagery of life. She incorporates costumes, short films and narration in a multimedia presentation designed to leave audience members with a greater understanding of each dance, as well as the dancer's life story and Chinese culture.

She will perform seven dances — Lotus, Mountain, Water, Bird, Smoke, Tears and Happiness — during her 90-minute Artists Series program.

The short films preceding each dance and concluding the program were created by filmmakers Jared Martin and Geoffrey Richman. The interval films depict the cultural and artistic background of each dance, providing information about Yu Wei's training as a classical dancer and her interest in Chinese folk and traditional dance. They include behind-the-scenes views of her dances being created and the people in her life and provide an illuminating glimpse of daily life in China and America.

Yu Wei began studying dance as a young girl, when she was selected by the Wuhan Song and Dance Theater Academy. She studied a broad curriculum of dance and was invited to join the Wuhan company after she graduated. In 1986, she was named the company's principal dancer, and she later became the lead dancer and guest artist in a variety of dance companies and festivals.

Yu Wei began creating her solo dance collection in Beijing in 1992 under the art direction of nationally known dance master Zhang Ke.

"Solo dance does not mean one person dancing but a focus on a particular aspect of dance," Zhang Ke has said.

Yu Wei came to the United States in 2000 and lives in Philadelphia. Her dance collection has been presented throughout the United States and China, including performances at the Manhattan Center, the Kennedy Center and the National Palace Theater in Beijing.

Tickets for the Artists Series performance are $17 for the public, $15 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $7 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Student tickets are half-price ($3.50) until the day of the event. On the day of the event, students will be required to pay the full student ticket price.

Tickets are available at the Service Center in the east lobby of Davies Center, 715-836-3727, and will be sold at the door. Tickets for all campus events also are on sale at the Service Center's ticket office in the main lobby of Haas Fine Arts Center. The ticket outlet is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and is closed during holidays and academic breaks.

Patrons may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

Yu Wei's residency will include a brown bag lunch panel discussion Sept. 24. Dr. Bruce W.N. Lo, UW-Eau Claire professor of information systems, will lead the discussion of Chinese culture from noon-1 p.m. in the Presidents Room of Davies Center. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about Yu Wei's residency activities, call the Activities and Programs office, 715-836-2787.

This performance is presented in cooperation with the Center for International Education to celebrate UW-Eau Claire's participation in the Chinese 1+2+1 Program. This program is facilitated through the China Center for International Educational Exchange and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in collaboration with UW-Eau Claire. Students enrolled in the China 1+2+1 Partnership Program spend a year at a Chinese university, study at UW-Eau Claire for two years and return to the institution in China for their final year. After completing all program requirements at both institutions, students will receive bachelor's degrees from UW-Eau Claire and the institution in China. UW-Eau Claire has an agreement with 16 Chinese universities. In 2008, four students are studying at UW-Eau Claire as a part of this program.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

In addition to the Artists Series season sponsors, the Yu Wei Chinese Dance Collection is supported by the Performing Arts Fund, a program of Arts Midwest funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts which believes a great nation deserves great art, with additional contributions from Wisconsin Arts Board, General Mills Foundation, and Land O'Lakes Foundation. Yu Wei Chinese Dance Collection also is supported by a grant from the UW System Institute on Race and Ethnicity.

Funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

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JS/KH

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