Born and raised in China, Wen Wei Wang immigrated to Canada in 1991 to join Ballet British Columbia. In 2003, he founded Wen Wei Dance and has since produced seven major works, toured Canada five times, performed across the globe, and received an RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award. Impressed? There’s more where that came from. Meet Ballet Edmonton’s artistic director, Wen Wei Wang…
How did your career shift from performer to choreographer?
I have always loved creating things. As a child, I moved pieces on chessboards like they were dancers, creating patterns and formations. After joining Ballet BC as a dancer, I began creating ballet works… but the event that really changed the course of my career was in 2000, when I won the Clifford E. Lee Award for Choreography at the Banff Centre. It was at that point that I made the transition from professional dancer to professional choreographer.
How has the world of ballet changed since you began dancing in 1978?
Ballet is always growing and moving with the time, trends, and culture. When I first saw Ballet BC performing work that William Forsythe created, it was new, electrifying, and powerful. He pushed bodies to their physical limits, beyond classical ballet. Since that time, ballet companies have been enriching their repertoire, especially in Canada. I am excited to be part of Ballet Edmonton because it’s on the cutting edge of contemporary trends.
You’ve said that dance has its own language. What do you hope to communicate that can’t be said in words?
I think everyone understands music, but nobody asks what that means: nobody demands a narrative. For me, dance movements are the same, just like music: something you feel and experience. You see something through the colour, texture, tone, sensuality, strength and vulnerability, the breathing and physicality—to me it’s moving pictures, it’s sculpture. That’s how you
communicate with the audience.
—By Shawna Bannerman
Check out Wen Wei Wang’s new upcoming series with Ballet Edmonton, Where We Are, November 2–4, 2018.