DETROIT—“The pageantry is beautiful, the colors beautiful, the colors and the flow with the garments, and the patterns they make with dancing,” said David Dagenais after seeing the first half of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Detroit Opera House on Jan. 26th.
New York-based Shen Yun, the world’s premier traditional Chinese music and dance company, aims to present classical Chinese dance and hundreds of handmade costumes that complement backdrops depicting celestial palaces, vistas of grasslands, and sacred spots. Through Shen Yun, the true essence of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization is brought to audiences around the world.
At the heart of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, a comprehensive and rigorous system that developed over the centuries into the beautiful dance we see today, according to Shen Yun’s website.
Mr. Dagenais, who owns a beauty college and who was viewing Shen Yun for the first time, was especially impressed by the dancers and their choreography. “They’re very skilled, very interesting moves,” he said.
“We especially like the fighting scenes; the athleticism of both male and female. But the males with the fighting is very cool. The females very graceful, very beautiful.”
Classical Chinese dance requires certain exacting postures, difficult technique of tumbling, leaps and spins, and an inner quality called “bearing,” which allows the dancers to express deeper meaning.
The vivid visual aspects of the show caught Mr. Dagenais’s attention as well. “Very interesting patterns you get with the silk colors, very cool,” he said referring to the costumes in motion.
“Especially with the women when they turn around and they do the spinning, it’s really beautiful.”
He also enjoyed the state-of-the-art digital backdrops that seem to bring the animated figures on the screen to life as the dancers take over their positions. “We liked how they used the video, where the players disappear and then become part of the video,” he said.
“And then they come out of the video and become [alive in] the show. We think that’s very clever.”
Since the Dagenais family was sitting in the front row, they got a good look at the orchestra. Mr. Dagenais noted that the orchestra was full, and that it included interesting instruments—not those typically found in Western orchestras.
In fact, Shen Yun travels with a full orchestra composed of both the traditional Western instruments that give it a lush sound, and also those of Chinese instruments that lend a unique quality and melody to the music.
“We’re sitting in the front row, which is great. But I wouldn’t mind sitting in the back,” he said. “I’ll bet it’s more spectacular when you’re up high or looking down at it. It would be a different perspective.”
Reporting by Valerie Avore and Sharon Kilarski.
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform at the Detroit Opera House through Jan. 27. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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