ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Shen Yun graced the stage of the Escondido, California Center for the Arts on Saturday afternoon, as theatergoers chose to close their year with the pageantry and splendor of China’s majestic culture.
Through classical Chinese dance, music, myths, and elaborate authentic costumes, the New York-based Shen Yun celebrates a divinely inspired culture that has developed over 5,000 years.
Kimberly Lilley, director of marketing for an insurance company and the director of a church choir and orchestra, was among those in attendance at the matinee, along with her friend, Susan Walker, who works at the public information office at a college in Oceanside.
“I conduct an orchestra as well, so it was really wonderful to hear the different instruments and have an opportunity to be introduced to them individually; I loved that,” said Ms. Lilley.
The Chinese instruments featured in the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra include the erhu, dizi, pipa, and suona. The orchestra blends them together, creating a unique and pleasing sound, with Western instruments playing the harmonic foundation and traditional Chinese instruments leading with the melodies.
“I also am a dancer. So watching the technique and the history about where some of the tumbling came from, that was really amazing,” she said.
“I was screaming through the whole thing, I was so excited about some of it. The skill on that stage is very high. The technique is beautiful.”
“Jumping, turning, and flipping techniques, along with the exquisiteness of the bearing and form, give classical Chinese dance special expressivity. It is able to transcend ethnic, cultural, and even linguistic barriers,” says the Shen Yun website.
Ms. Lilley also remarked on the overall effect of the brilliant costumes and the high-tech digital backdrop designs that serve to augment each dance with rich scenery and animation.
“The costumes, the set, and the interactions of the screen and how it was completely interactive, was clever,” said Ms. Lilley.
Ms. Walker gave Ms. Lilley tickets to the show as a Christmas present.
Ms. Walker explained how she found out about Shen Yun. “When I saw this advertised on television, I really wanted to go and see it,” she said. “When I saw this, I said, ‘oh we’ve got to go because I know you [Kimberly] were going to love it.’ And it was really nice. I enjoyed it very much.”
Some of the pieces in Shen Yun also deal with what is happening currently in China, particularly concerning the spiritual practice Falun Gong, which is rooted in traditional culture, but is under persecution by the regime in China.
“I wasn’t familiar with the whole movement and what was being persecuted,” said Ms. Lilley about the Falun Gong pieces. “So I was also educated about the social aspect, which I liked.”
Commenting on the universal values displayed on a banner in the show stating the tenets of Falun Gong, “Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance,” the friends agreed: “It fits very well with our faith as well.”
With reporting by Masha Savitz.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will be heading to Escondido for performances at the California Center for the Arts from Dec. 28 to 31.
New York-based Shen Yun has three companies that tour the world each year on a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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