A Chinese word for "spirit", referring to consciousness, thoughts, emotions and senses that make us uniquely human. It is believed that the harmonious flow of Shen is essential to good health. Transmitted into the fetus from both parents, it must be continuously nourished after birth. The heart stores the Shen.
The innermost living tissue of vertebrate animals. A storehouse of life-sustaining substances, as well as the deepest currents of energy in the body. The aspect of our physical selves that remain in the tangible world longer than any other. Even after the rest of the physical body departs, the bones remain.
Shen & Bones Performance Group combines the full spectrum of human experience, from the intangible (ethereal) to the most tangible (corporeal).
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Artistic Director Lani Fand Weissbach founded Shen & Bones Performance Group with the desire to create and share dance-theater works that take people on a visceral, sensory journey into the many aspects of their humanity. The repertoire contains works of "quiet introspection, raw power, evocative imagery and dark themes" (Steve Sucato, national dance writer/critic) as well as humorous and playful pieces, often bordering on the outrageous.
Shen & Bones productions synthesize a variety of performance genres, drawing heavily from the philosophy and aesthetic of Butoh, a Japanese contemporary dance form, and from Western modern dance-theater styles. Butoh, in its multiple faces and forms, provides the inspirational "backbone" for Shen & Bones. As a versatile and highly organic medium, Butoh embraces contradictions and contrasting states within our internal and external worlds. It can be simultaneously simple and complex, disturbing and playful, raw and refined, defying expectations of a specific dance language.
The company is comprised of a small group of performers who come together on a project-to-project basis. The performers are diversely talented individuals who are trained in many disciplines, including dance, theater, visual art and music. Guest artists from any artistic discipline are often invited to participate in the creation and performance of the pieces. Since 1999, audiences throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania have enjoyed Shen & Bones performances in a variety of settings, such as theaters, galleries, restaurants, outdoor areas, educational and social venues, as well as other sites. Shen & Bones has been invited to present works in Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C. and Asheville, N.C. In 2007, the group was selected for inclusion in the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour (PennPat) Roster.
The aim of Shen & Bones Performance Group is to leave viewers with something to identify with, something to think further about, something moving for the heart, and something that speaks to their own creative imaginations.
In the process of creating an indigenous form of modern dance, Japanese Butoh founders discovered a universal poetry of the body. Rather than transcending the human condition, Butoh asks us to descend into it--down into the turbulence, awkwardness and uncertainty of life--and from there, deep in the thick of things, we discover our own healing and capacity to love unconditionally.
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Since its inception, Butoh has become a flexible medium for educating and healing both the individual and the collective through the vehicle of the body. It teaches us to listen and respond to our deepest impulses, and in this way, we may begin to experience ourselves and each other in an extraordinarily direct and truthful way.
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Movement, to be experienced, has to be 'found' in the body, not put on like a dress or a coat. There is that in us which has moved from the very beginning: it is that which can liberate us.
—Mary Starks Whitehouse