NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Siblings Russell Buchi and Russane Buchi-Forte, come from a family of professional tennis players. They were swept away on a 5,000-year journey through China’s vast lands as they attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center on Feb. 15.
The Buchi family was voted the “Tennessee Tennis Family of the Year” in the 1970s. Their mother is known as a matriarch in Tennessee tennis. The tennis center at the Centennial Sportsplex is named after her, the Ruthelia Buchi Tennis Center.
Mr. Buchi was a professional tennis player for over 15 years, was head tennis coach at Belmont University, and now is a real estate agent and volunteer assistant tennis coach at Vanderbilt University. Mrs. Buchi-Forte is a social worker.
“This is great,” Mrs. Buchi-Forte said. Shen Yun touched Mrs. Buchi-Forte and stirred up a treasured memory of an experience traveling in Asia, in which a group of women included her in a joyful folk dance. “I think folk dance is one of the most genuine forms of expression,” she said.
According to Shen Yun’s website, “China has 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities, and their distinct ways of life reflect discrepancies in local topography, climate, and religious tradition.”
Each of these factors are deeply embedded into each ethnicity’s dance style, according the Shen Yun’s website.
Mrs. Buchi-Forte felt an emotional connection with Shen Yun’s ethnic dances and was awed by the Mongolian Bowl Dance. She recalled a good friend who traveled Mongolia on horseback and she felt an emotional connection to that dance and to her friend.
“I really enjoyed it,” Mrs. Buchi-Forte said. “I think it really just brings out mankind.”
Currently, Shen Yun cannot perform in China because of communist rule in the country, which has sought to destroy traditional Chinese culture, notably during the Cultural Revolution.
“When they talk about some of the struggles that China faces—I think it’s really good and interesting,” Mrs. Buchi-Forte said
Mr. Buchi particularly enjoyed When Shaolin Monks Protected the Emperor. Mrs. Buchi-Forte said that she especially liked the Shen Yun dancers using the costumes in their dance, particularly the sleeves, and she said she loved the male dancers with the Himalayan peaks in the digital background in Dancing for the Gods.
“Every single one them, it’s like, ‘this—I’ve got to remember this, it’s one of my favorites to talk about’.” But choosing is hard when you love them all. With each successive dance, she said her favorites “keep progressing.”
Shen Yun was established in 2006 by a group of independent classical Chinese artists with the desire to revive the almost lost true Chinese culture.
The core of Shen Yun’s performance is classical Chinese dance with numerous ethnic and folk dances, a one-of-a-kind orchestra that blends the East and West, stunning digital backdrops, exquisite costumes, and piano accompanied vocalists.
Reporting by Mary Silver and Kelly Ni.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun will give four shows in Nashville from Feb. 15-17. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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