PROVIDENCE, R.I—Architect Robert Leach experienced a whole new world on Tuesday at the opening night of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Providence Performing Arts Center.
Mr. Leach, at the Feb. 5 evening performance, said Shen Yun was a great way for Americans to experience and understand traditional Chinese culture.
“The first thing that I think of is how little exposure Americans have to China, unless you get the opportunity to travel. We just don’t really have this kind of culture on a daily basis,” said Mr. Leach at the intermission.
“I’m learning that there’s a whole other world that we’re not exposed to that much, and hopefully through this kind of cross-cultural event we’ll have that exposure and be able to appreciate dance—a different kind of dance.”
New York-based Shen Yun is a world-renowned classical Chinese dance and music company. Formed in 2006 by overseas Chinese artists, the company’s mission is to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.
According to the Shen Yun website, classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world. Distilled from 5,000 years of divinely-inspired Chinese culture, classical Chinese dance has been influenced by nearly every era and dynasty in the country’s long history.
Based on his architecture and design experience, Mr. Leach was also very impressed with the show’s visual production elements, such as digitally animated backdrops and hundreds of colorful handmade costumes and props.
He adored the effect of the digital backdrops, which are timed perfectly with the dancers to create the illusion the performers can jump in and out of the screen.
“When the actors jump off the ledge and come on to the screen it’s very unique,” he said. “I haven’t seen that before.”
“I like it very much,” said Mr. Leach. “It’s very colorful and I don’t see a lot of dance like this so it’s very unique to see. It’s something we’re not exposed to at all.”
One of the most memorable moments for Mr. Leach was a dance entitled Sand Monk is Blessed, which tells a portion of the story of the Monkey King, a character from Journey to the West, a classical Chinese novel.
In the scene, a horrible river ogre is transformed into a monk by a divine being, highlighting traditional Chinese virtues such as karmic retribution, redemption, and spiritual awakening.
“That was interesting,” said Mr. Leach.
Reporting by Kerry Huang and Justina Wheale.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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