BUFFALO, N.Y.—Impressed with Shen Yun Performing Arts last year, John and Nicole Connelly brought their two daughters with them to see the performance this year. The family of four attended the show at Shea’s Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night.
Jacquelyn and Christy, seeing Shen Yun for the first time, were filled with excitement and joy when they talked about the show.
“I thought it was beautiful. It’s just amazing. There’s so many colors and it’s really gorgeous, said Jacquelyn.
Christy agreed. “I liked the dance numbers and the costumes,” she said.
Mr. Connelly, owner of a promotional company, expressed great appreciation for the dancers.
“Extremely disciplined. There is an incredible amount of discipline behind the dancers and what they do. You can tell, it’s very, very, very articulate, very. Just never seen young people in this kind of shape,” he said with much emphasis.
According to Shen Yun’s website, the company’s dancers are drawn from all over the world, and many are winners of international dance competitions.
Mrs. Connelly said that if she had to sum up her impression of the performance in one word, it would be “magnificent.” She enjoyed every aspect of the production.
“I think just the whole mixture of the dance, the music, the song, the color, the beauty of just everything woven together is incredible,” she said.
“The merge of the visual in the background and the actors and actresses is brilliant,” said Mr. Connelly, noting that he very much enjoyed the striking backdrops employed by Shen Yun.
Shen Yun’s animated backdrops are digitally projected. The company’s website described them as presenting “vividly animated settings, extending the stage and transporting the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one.”
Mr. Connelly gave special praise to the producer of the performance, saying “whoever was behind this [production] is really a visionary.”
He said he would return next year.
“I’m totally sold. I would come back and see it again.”
Rich in Tradition
Among Wednesday night’s audience was blues singer Marcia Lussier, who said she found the performance rich in tradition.
“Really, the richness of tradition of China, I think I was aware of it but not so much as I learned today,” she said.
Based in New York, Shen Yun’s mission is to revive China’s traditional culture, which in the company’s own words is “divinely inspired.” Many of the vignettes in Shen Yun’s performances tell stories drawn from myths, legends, and historical episodes from China’s 5,000 years of civilization.
Ms. Lussier said she enjoyed the two emcees’ explanations and found them informative and interesting.
“They [the two emcees] explained about the stories, about the legends, just about everything that was happening. The little narration before the story I found really interesting. I learned from that,” she said.
The vignette that left Ms. Lussier the deepest impression was Monk Sand Is Blessed, a story-based dance in which the dancers appear to fly into the air and then back onto the stage through the use of the digital backdrop produced by state-of-the-art graphics technology.
“I love the Monkey King. It was really great. The effects of him flying through the air and just popping up onto the stage is really incredibly creative, very exciting, really nice. I loved it, really loved it,” she said with a hearty laugh.
Monkey King is one of the beloved characters in the well-known Chinese classic novel “Journey to the West” who has been a popular figure portrayed in Chinese performing arts.
As a singer herself, Ms. Lussier was very much attracted to the singers of Shen Yun.
“The singers, absolutely beautiful range, beautiful control, just really beautifully presented too, gorgeous,” she said, adding that “when you’re singing you have emotion about it, and there was a lot of emotion there. It was beautiful.”
Solo singing is an integral part of a Shen Yun performance. The singers use bel canto operatic technique to sing Chinese lyrics. According to Shen Yun’s website, “this means that the singer must, while continuing to meet the challenges inherent in bel canto technique, retain proper Chinese pronunciation and diction. Today, their ability to do this is unparalleled.”
Ms. Lussier said she would definitely recommend Shen Yun to her friends.
“Absolutely,” she said, adding that “it’s going to be all over Facebook.”
Reporting by Dongyu Deng, NTD Television, and Maria Chow
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.