CHICAGO—Shen Yun Performing Arts, on its 2010 world tour, delivered an encore performance to theater enthusiasts here in the Windy City on the evening of April 10.
Jim Rhode, an event coordinator, said he wasn't sure what he and his wife were to expect, "but we really are enjoying the music and the dance, and my wife really loves the costumes. Very colorful and the choreography is great. I like the digital scenery behind—that's really cool," he enthused.
The couple were seeing for the very first time a portal into China's 5,000 years of history played out in classical Chinese dance and song.
Mr. Rhode said he picked up on a message subtly interwoven throughout the program.
"It was just kind of spiritual a little bit and calming. It's nice—it's a nice feeling," he said.
He liked the dance Flowing Silk, the "one with the long-sleeves—the sleeve dance in like … 'water-sleeves'—that's the one," he said.
"It was just very calming and I [thought it] looked very pretty … really great."
In this dance, long silken sleeves float in the air, much like ribbons blowing on a gentle breeze conjuring an image of rippling water.
Mr. Rhode has had a taste of Chinese culture through a Hong Kong import/export company that he once worked for.
"We would go down into the Chicago's hull of Chinatown a lot, so it was kind of cool to be introduced to some of the culture that way," he said.
Mr. Rhode said he learned more about the divinely-inspired aspects of Chinese history than before.
'Important to know about other's lives and communities'
Also enjoying the New York-based Shen Yun performance was Heather Bardeleben, a corporate law attorney, and Tricia Weithofer, a technical writer, and her children.
Tricia thought the show was "wonderful."
"I thought that the colors and all the cultures were amazing. Seeing something new and different, especially bringing the young kids to see something so culturally diverse."
Ms. Bardeleben also loved the show. "I thought it was fun. I loved the interaction with the audience. I thought it was a beautifully, well done job. I enjoyed it a lot."
She was most impressed by the skill of the dancers and the colors.
Tricia agreed with her friend. "It’s just the physique of each person. The smoothness of their dance is very good."
Integral to Shen Yun are story-based dances taken from China's beloved heroic legends, well known folk tales and modern day stories of astounding courage.
"I think some of the stories were very riveting," Tricia said. "It touched what they were trying to bring across … the scene with the mother and daughter and how she went off to heaven, [Nothing Can Block the Divine Path]. I think using the screen to tell the story was an addition to the whole thing. I think it added to the understanding to the piece."
Ms. Bardeleben said, "The fact that they could bring the technology and have it be as much a part of the show as the dancers, and that you could understand the story without a word being said, was neat. I loved that. I just loved the way that the people came into the screen and up to the back and out. It was very cool. I loved it."
She recalled performing competitively for “team sport color guard.”
"Some of the dance moves and the way that they used the ribbons and the material, it’s just neat. I used to do that in a much different scale, on stage for competition. And it was neat to see how some of the moves that we used to do … I used to do something similar to that, many, many years ago."
Tricia said, she similarly grew up around the arts and often went with family to see different shows. "I think because of having that background, it’s just so important to a child’s life as well as a community of life. I think it’s important to know about other's lives and communities."
Shen Yun Performing Arts performs two more shows at the Civic Opera House, Sunday, April 11, and then travels to Minneapolis for a performance on Wednesday, April 14.
For more information, please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org