NEW YORK—As a dancer performing in practicum with Shen Yun Performing Arts, Ms. Wang Taiwei is described as naturally possessing “the perfect dance conditions.”
Wang, a dancer that any company would hire in a heartbeat, has one of the most flexible bodies of all of her fellow dancers. She is mentally tough and possesses the capacity for enduring long training hours.
On a typical preparation day, Ms. Wang practices for eight hours and it is not unusual for her to repeat one flip 200 times a day. She seeks perfection and has no shortage of willpower. For one of the 2011–2012 dance pieces, “Snowflakes Welcoming Spring,” the female dancers twirl and toss white handkerchiefs to create the illusion of snow flurries on stage. “I would say I twirled that handkerchief 1,000 times a day when we were in training,” she said.
As a lead dancer, she is present in nearly all the dance numbers, and showcases her extreme flexibility at each turn. In the dance “Sleeves of Silk,” it is Ms. Wang who, with utmost poise, pulls her leg back and over her head and holds it there, a momentary point of tranquility as her fellow dancers move energetically about her.
“Controlled postures like these are directly linked with the quality of my daily practice,” Ms. Wang said. “I have to mentally coordinate a lot of things, such as my support leg, my demeanor and expression, and of course the long billowing skirts that we perform in.”
“Taiwei is really flexible,” said a fellow dancer. “Her legs go ‘poof-poof.’ She’s the most flexible female dancer I know. Her back leg kick not only touches her head, but she can also kick beyond her head. She’s [beyond] flexible.”
Having toured around the United States and the world in the performance practicum, Ms. Wang has encountered much outpouring of positive feedback. Audience members have told her how moved they were to see the expansive scenes depicted onstage, and the scale of the entire production.
“This gives me motivation,” Ms. Wang said. “When I see how they experience the show, when they are moved to tears—it’s all motivation for me to do even better.”
Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the cultural traditions that have been destroyed during communist rule in China, and to bring to light the injustices that continue in China today. A number of dance pieces depict practitioners of Falun Dafa who are persecuted by the state for their faith. Ms. Wang, also a Falun Dafa practitioner, draws upon the pain and the strength of these people to give passion to her performance.
Ms. Wang grew up in Malaysia where many Falun Dafa refugees, mostly women, have settled after escaping China.
“I see their pain and their spirit,” Ms. Wang said. “When I meet with challenges, I think of those refugees and how much they suffered. Then all the pain in practicing dance feels like enjoyment, not fatigue. The way they keep their faith reminds me that telling their story through dance is my mission.”