KITCHENER-WATERLOO, Canada—Shen Yun Performing Arts opened a new world of dance to ballerina Aaliya Embro at Centre in the Square theatre Thursday night.
Ms. Embro has studied ballet for 12 years, dancing part-time while she continues her schooling. It was her first time to see Shen Yun, and the night was an experience that she almost couldn’t believe.
“I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I think it’s amazing. Just amazing,” she said, with her new-found appreciation of classical Chinese dance.
“It’s just so different than what our culture is used to,” she said. “It’s just outstanding what they can do. It’s beautiful.”
She was taken with the arm movements of Shen Yun’s dancers, something she had never seen the likes of before.
“They are so unique and very intricate. They are so different from classical ballet or from jazz or anything of that sort,” she said.
Shen Yun stages performances of classical Chinese dance, an art form thousands of years old, passed down among the people, in imperial courts and opera houses dynasty after dynasty. Ms. Embro said it was powerful and unique.
The dancers expressed their characters very well, and their joy showed through, she said.
“Their face just tells the whole story, and that’s very important in dance … it makes the entire dance. You can tell that they are enjoying what they do.”
Shen Yun was founded on a mission to revive 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture. Ms. Embro said she felt blessed to have seen it live.
“I would never ever get to see something like this ever in my life. And it’s an amazing feeling to just be able to watch them perform like that and to do all those tricks and their flexibilities. It’s just amazing.”
Those tricks are classical Chinese dance’s unique flipping and tumbling techniques, highly challenging moves that most of the world recognizes from acrobatics and gymnastics, but actually originate directly from classical Chinese dance.
Ms. Embro said those moves were phenomenal.
“I don’t think I could ever do that in my entire life, and it’s just, I find it amazing how people can even do that. It seems beyond me. I think it’s wonderful, very wonderful.”
But it wasn’t just their moves that impressed Ms. Embro, it was also what the dancers were wearing–hundreds of hand-tailored costumes.
“They are so beautiful and unique and it’s so different from anything else,” she said.
“They’re just so flowy and they’re just amazing. It shows that you don’t have to wear very revealing things for it to be beautiful.”
“It creates a whole picture in itself, because with the sleeves, they’re so long and when they flow, it’s almost like scarves moving through the wind. It creates a whole bigger picture and it leaves more to your imagination. It’s just great. I think their costumes are just beautiful.”
She was touched by the dance Phoenix Fairies, a dance the program book describes as phoenix maidens soaring with celestial grace, wearing shimmering skirts that echo the depths of the star-speckled sky.
“It was a very beautiful costume and the piece itself, it was just wonderful.
“It makes me feel good, it makes me feel happy and alive and just full of energy to see these people do these things. It’s a great feeling, it’s great.”
“Kind of feel like I’m flying along with them, because they are fairies and I’m just kind of like a bird in the sky and it’s great. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Ms. Embro came with her grandmother, a birthday present her grandparents knew she would enjoy after they came to see Shen Yun by themselves last year.
Reporting by NTD Television and Matthew Little
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company will play two shows in Kitchener-Waterloo on Jan. 10-11 before going on to Hamilton and Toronto in its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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