COSTA MESA, Calif.—Lynn and Mark Ledford, owners of a children’s performing arts center in Rancho Santa Margarita, were delighted while watching Shen Yun Performing Arts Jan. 20 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
“It’s very vibrant,” said Mrs. Ledford.
Mr. Ledford agreed with his wife, and said he was particularly struck by the joy of the dancers.
“We’re in the third row, and you see the animation on their faces and tell they’re totally enjoying themselves—they’re enjoying themselves performing and making us happy, as an audience—and I think that’s what I enjoy the most,” he said. “They’re happy to be up there and teaching us something about their history.”
Shen Yun is a New York-based company that travels to more than 100 cities around the world each year, formed to revive the 5,000 year old, divinely inspired Chinese culture.
“A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending the sounds of both East and West, breathtaking backdrops, splendid costumes, vocalists—together creating an experience that’s leaving millions in awe,” says the company’s website.
The emotions evoked during Shen Yun’s performances are wide-ranging.
Mr. Ledford enjoyed, for example, the comedy during a dance called When Shaolin Monks Protected the Emperor.
“The monks are supposed to be totally docile individuals, but yet they’re fighting people off, and I think that’s kind of fun,” he said.
Synchronization is an attribute of Shen Yun often lauded by audience members. The timing is evident among the dancers, and also between the dancers and the Shen Yun Orchestra.
Having more than a dozen dancers on stage at one time, all in sync, with facial expressions in sync, too, impressed Mrs. Ledford.
“I thought they were just very poised—very pretty,” she said, referring to the female dancers.
Mr. Ledford added, “The orchestra is fabulous. They were just really good. What’s amazing is how precise the dance is going with the music.”
Another aspect of the synchronization is found between the dancers, costumes, and backdrops. Digitally animated backdrops create vivid imagery of celestial kingdoms, sacred temples and mountains, along with modern landmarks in China. The colors of each different backdrop complement the dancers’ costumes. Characters on the screen fluidly become dancers, then back to the screen as characters again through seamless coordination.
“The technical elements were very cute,” Mrs. Ledford said with a laugh, calling the character to dancer transformation “really, really fun.”
“We enjoyed that, we were laughing,” he said. “We’re impressed.”
Shen Yun’s mission of reviving traditional Chinese culture connected with Mr. Ledford.
Speaking specifically about two dances touching on the persecution of Falun Gong, in China today, Mrs. Ledford said
“I feel like they’re trying to educate us, and I feel like we should listen.”
The couple said they would recommend Shen Yun to family and friends.
“My friends are in gymnastics and dance and theater, so I would tell them [to] bring their children,” said Mrs. Ledford. “And I would tell them it’s very pretty, very colorful, inspiring, athletic, great choreography, a whole orchestra—which I’m very jealous about. It’s beautiful.”
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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