A native of Hunan province in China, Shen studied painting, calligraphy and traditional Chinese opera as well as dance. After performing with the Hunan State Xian Opera Company, he became in 1991 a founding member of the country's first modern dance troupe, the Guangdong Modern Dance Company. In 1995 he moved to New York City, where he founded Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2000. He and his company have developed, to wide acclaim, a unique style which fuses elements of traditional Chinese acrobatics, opera and martial arts with Western modern dance vocabulary. Shen continues to be an active painter and often creates the design elements for his dances.
The MacArthur Fellowships (popularly known as the "genius grants") are given annually to support outstanding figures in such fields as history and social science, visual and performing arts, literature and scientific research. The associated cash grants, currently $500,000 paid out over five years, are intended to allow the Fellows to devote themselves to their endeavors without having to worry about making a steady living. MacArthur Fellows are nominated by experts in their fields. One cannot apply for a fellowship and potential recipients do not know they are being considered.
More information about the MacArthur Fellowships and the 2007 Fellows can be found at www.macfound.org.