ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Shen Yun Performing Arts treated the audience at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, to the majestic 5,000 years of Chinese culture with classical dance, a combined orchestra using Western and Chinese instruments and music, myths, modern stories, and handmade costumes, at a matinee on Dec. 31.
Among those celebrating the coming New Year at the performance were Winston and Kathleen McColl. Mr. McColl serves as Director of Purchasing and Contracting for the county of San Diego, and his wife is a retired nurse.
“It is very beautiful,” Mrs. McColl said. “It was very nice. We enjoyed it.”
New York-based Shen Yun is committed to preserving and promoting China’s authentic, divinely inspired culture by presenting various ethnic groups within China as well as legends with meticulous attention to detail in its costuming and dances.
Mr. McColl echoed his wife’s sentiments, remarking, “It is beautiful, the costuming is fantastic.” He said they had lived in Korea for five years and had visited China.
Each year Shen Yun has created new costumes, dances, story lines, songs, and music from China’s vast land and continuous history.
It’s website explains that the brilliantly colored costumes range “from the Tang Dynasty’s ‘Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers’ to imperial dragon robes, phoenix coronets, and cloud capes, from the civil official’s headdress and robes to the warrior’s helmet and armor, and from the traditional rightward cross-collared Han clothing to the ethnic attire of the Manchurian, Tibetan, Dai, Mongol, and Uyghur ethnic groups.”
The stunning outfits range from emperors, ministers, and generals to the everyday clothing of the common people. The designers stress harmonic balance and contrast.
In addition to the costumes and dances, a major feature of Shen Yun is its animated backdrops that extend the stage for miles and transport the audience to different times and places throughout China’s history. They are “magical windows to completely different realms,” as explained on Shen Yun’s website.
Both Mr. and Mrs. McColl were impressed. “The work on the screen—I don’t know what you call that—that is very unique,” Mrs. McColl said. “Yes, the animation [was] very clever,” her husband agreed.
The digital backdrop designs are unique. According to the Shen Yun website, “The backdrops are as grand as they are intricate. So remarkably true-to-life, they allow you to forget where you are, and journey to another place and time.”
Mrs. McColl explained how they heard about Shen Yun. She said, “Our mechanic is Ming, and last year he had the [Shen Yun] posters all over the shop.”
She said that his family are Chinese Americans, “so I decided we should go because he had all the advertisements. It looked very nice, and we really liked it.”
Reporting by Sally Sun and Masha Savitz.
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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