SYDNEY—Outside on the street, the afternoon was cold and dreary, but inside the iconic Capitol Theatre, China’s divinely inspired traditions brought warmth to a responsive and happy audience who filled the building to capacity.
Onlookers were intrigued by the beauty of Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company, hailed as the world’s premier of classical Chinese dance, music and technology.
Among them was Roberta McGregor, a classical singer, visual artist and poet, who currently runs her own studio in the Shoalhaven, called The Voice Express, where she teaches singing, music theory, voice and drama, and performance skills.
“I thought [Shen Yun] was beautiful. I thought it was an excellent use of Chinese culture and history, using modern media. The concept was just beautiful. It’s the first time I saw it; it’s just wonderful, really inspiring,” she said.
“I really loved the opening, [Descending to the World]. I actually almost cried. I was like, wow! I think we need to be reminded of our divine nature.”
Sophisticated dance techniques, an orchestra blending instruments East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop—this is Shen Yun at first glance. But digging deeper, one discovers a sea of traditional Chinese culture, the company website explains. Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life.
“I liked the diverse range of media and the use of classical singing, but with the scriptures—the Chinese scriptures [subtitles on backdrop screen]—I thought that was really beautiful, and a very good use of classical voice with the two female singers and the male singer, the male tenor,” she said. “I really enjoyed the reinterpretation of the Chinese dynasties in dance as well.”
Ms. McGregor said traditional culture was significant to her. “I think it’s very important to highlight, in this case the Chinese culture, to maintain different cultures and history across the world … for the purpose of everyone knowing about these things. So really important, and of course compassion, truth, wisdom and tolerance and understanding are absolutely vital.”
As a singer and artist, Ms. McGregor said art was also important. “I think it encompasses a wide range. I liked the use of art in terms of the backdrops, if you’re looking at visual art—the backdrops.”
She also mentioned the Shen Yun Touring Company Orchestra: “… using the music and the different instruments where one is using Chinese instruments, which are culturally owned by the Chinese, but also shows us in our Western culture the use of Western instruments.
Ms. McGregor conceded she had much left to digest from the presentation. “But it was so richly texturised in that sense. It really appealed to me,” she said.
In 2008, Roberta McGregor organised a concert, an evening of song for the Shoalhaven Entertainment Center called Evening Delights, in which she also performed. Together with the Shoalhaven Singers choir, she also performed at the Mayor’s Peace Concert at Shoalhaven Entertainment Center.
Reporting by NTD Television and Raiatea Tahana-Reese.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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