COSTA MESA, Calif.—”This far exceeded our expectations; probably the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen on stage.” These words came from Dr. William Mathews, a collector of art, who, with his wife, Irene, attended Shen Yun Performing Arts on the evening of Jan. 19 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Mr. and Mrs. Mathews, who are not only avid collectors of art but also art benefactors, were thrilled with what they saw.
Mr. Mathews said that the finale was beautiful. “I’d do anything to see it again. … Everybody should see something this exciting.”
Shen Yun is a New York-based music and dance company with the expressed mission to revive traditional Chinese culture.
Through a collection of short pieces, Shen Yun’s dancers bring to life not only the historical features of China’s 5,000-year heritage, but they also convey the essence, the deeper meaning, of traditional Chinese culture, which emphasizes virtues such as righteousness, purity, and compassion.
Mr. Mathews described his enjoyment of the performance on a deep level.
“It was just beautifully done, and I could feel the movements, and after a period of time, you could almost learn what some of the movements meant. It was a really inspirational performance,” he said.
He was touched by the grace of the dancers’ hand movements. “It was just so inspirational and peaceful to see the hand movement,” he said.
Mrs. Mathews was equally delighted after seeing the performance.
“I think the show is beautifully put together. I don’t see how they could do anything more fantastic. So I agree with my husband, everyone in the world should see it, and I can’t wait to come back next year,” she said.
One of the many distinguishing aspects of a Shen Yun performance is the digitally animated backdrops which extend the stage and transport the audience to magical realms. From the vast Mongolian plains to the quiet solitude of a heavily wooded forest, from high mountain peaks to green, tropical valleys, “the digital projection infinitely expands and transforms the stage,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
Mrs. Mathews was impressed by the creative integration of the performers and the backdrop.
“I loved the way the backdrop was done, and it was fascinating how some of the people kind of disappeared into the air, in the background, and some of them came back, and then some of them just went away into the background.” She said it was helpful and beautifully done. “It just really did a great deal to enhance the program,” she said.
As an art collector, museum developer and museum trustee, Mrs. Mathews has developed a keen eye for detail and color combinations. She noticed how the tones of the colors in the backdrop reflected the tones of the dancers’ costumes.
“I think I notice it because I’ve been involved in the arts. I think you open your eyes more. I’m always looking for the colors, because I’m also an interior designer, and I notice color a lot, and I notice the colors in the show because some of the blues were strong—in the sky—some of them were muted, but they all create such a mood that puts the dancers in this landscape that goes along with the mood,” she said. She also noticed how the color of the costumes was in harmony with the background and scenery.
She said she felt that the coordination between the orchestra and the dancers conveyed peace. “It was beautiful. It was beautiful because they were so graceful, the dancers were so graceful, and it fit in with the music so much that it flowed beautifully, and it just was a very serene event.”
Reporting by Mandy Huang and Albert Roman.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform in Thousand Oaks at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Jan. 22 and 23, and downtown Los Angeles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Jan. 25 through 27. 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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