EDMONTON, Alberta—The first of New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts’ three Edmonton shows was well-received by a diverse group of Edmontonians, including the Base Commander of CFB Edmonton Lt. Col. Gary Blenkinsop.
The officer said he was particularly taken by China’s ancient, artistic traditions and the impact those have had on artistic traditions around the world.
“If it looks like ballet, if it looks like gymnastics, that’s probably because they invented it 5,000 years ago.”
Chinese classical dance includes a great diversity of movements, including challenging aerial techniques that most people recognize from gymnastics. But, as explained by the show’s two hosts, those tumbling techniques actually originate in Chinese classical dance. Such moves were later borrowed and incorporated into gymnastics.
“There’s a wide range of different talents there,” he said, pointing to Chinese opera as a case in point. He thought it was likely the art had evolved over China’s long history saying, “They’ve been singing a long time.”
“As they say, it’s a 5,000-year-old tradition—singing dancing, and all the rest of it.”
Overall, the officer said he thought it was “pretty cool.”
“And then they have the contemporary side in there too, with the modern dress, modern dance. I thought [those dances] were great. It kind of brought China back, it’s not all tradition,” he said, comparing many portrayals of China to a martial arts movie that overlooks present-day issues.
“Some of it is modernly relevant.”
Two of those contemporary numbers deal with the persecution of Falun Gong in modern day China. One dance, Heaven Awaits Us Despite Persecution, tells the story of a father who is persecuted for practicing Falun Gong. The scenes that ultimately unfold in this dance present a message of hope and bespeak of a longstanding Chinese belief that good people are ultimately rewarded, even if not in this lifetime.
When asked how he thought those modern dances fit into the overall presentation, he said “very good.”
Another highlight for the officer was the show’s colourful costumes.
“The costumes are very nice, really good,” he said.
Shen Yun will stage two more shows in Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium before finishing the Canadian leg of its 2009 World Tour in Regina.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org