PITTSBURGH—Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage at the The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts on Friday evening, enchanting the audience with a revival of one of the most ancient cultures in the world.
“It’s exciting,” said Johnny Davis, who owns his own construction company.
“It’s breathtaking,” said Tammy Davis, an IT consultant. They attended the show with their children: Jaden, 8, and Logan, 6.
New York-based Shen Yun crisscrosses the globe purveying the 5,000 year old, divinely inspired Chinese culture.
A core of classical Chinese dance is accentuated by handmade costumes, digital backdrops, and an orchestra that combines both classical Western and Chinese instruments—but it is the spiritual aspects of the culture that come through the performance most profoundly.
“Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience,” says Shen Yun’s website. “Originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, these ideals are the essence of traditional Chinese culture.”
The dance pieces span from the dawn of the ancient civilization to modern-day China.
The Davis family used to live in Washington D.C., and they almost saw Shen Yun multiple times while living there. After moving to Pittsburgh, however, they saw advertisements and their son wouldn’t allow them to miss it any longer.
For Mr. and Mrs. Davis, the performance helped them realize that despite the fact that people come from different backgrounds, everybody is connected.
“The common theme is dance, and the expression of it,” said Mrs. Davis.
Sisters Barbara and Patty Casasanta, a retired real estate agent and HR consultant, also enjoyed Friday’s performance.
“What a rich culture China has,” said Ms. Patty Casasanta. “And it’s something they should be proud of.”
She was shocked to hear that Shen Yun cannot perform in Mainland China.
Because of Shen Yun’s mission of reviving true Chinese culture after the ruling communist regime nearly decimated it, the company cannot currently perform in China.
“Completely independent of the Chinese regime, we enjoy the artistic freedom of New York to bring these ancient legends and virtues back to life,” reads Shen Yun’s website.
Ms. Patty Casasanta said she particularly enjoyed the vocalists, whose solos are interspersed with the dance pieces. They sing all-original bel canto compositions in Chinese, with an English translation on the backdrop behind them.
“Everybody universally believes in the divine spirit, and that we’re all spiritual beings, so I thought that was beautiful,” she said, referring to the lyrics.
The performance was very colorful and beautiful, said Ms. Barbara Casasanta. “And it was an enjoyable evening,” she said.
Reporting by Frank Liang and Zachary Stieber
Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company will perform in Pittsburg until Feb. 3. Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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