WASHINGTON–Artists, dancers, and performers were among the many theatergoers who packed the Kennedy Center Opera House on Friday, to take in the performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Choreographer and dancer Chandini Darby attended the Feb. 1 evening performance, and was stunned by Shen Yun’s high-level talent.
“They definitely dance at a very high level—you can tell that they are trained classically,” she said, adding she was impressed with the unique movements of classical Chinese dance.
“You can tell that they study a lot of traditional movements—I loved that a lot because I’ve seen all the gestures and head movements.”
Ms. Darby is a choreographer and contemporary dancer involved with three dance companies in the Washington D.C. area. She said although classical Chinese dance is spectacular and athletic, the aspect she appreciated most is its attention to detail and precision.
“The minor details are the things that I like to pay attention to. The big moments are very beautiful, there very nice, but it’s still small miner details that are really important and I could see that—I think that that alone shows very extensive training,” she said.
“I understand how difficult those things are but how important they are, and how it matters, so I could see that throughout [the performance].”
New York based Shen Yun is a world renowned classical Chinese dance and music company, with a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.
According to traditional Chinese beliefs, artists must first cultivate their inner selves and moral character in order to create external beauty on stage.
Ms. Darby said she deeply felt the spirituality and positive energy coming through the dances.
“It’s coming from a place that’s deeper than just the external facility,” she said. “You can see it from beginning to end.”
“True beauty comes from within, from a place of deep understanding and embracing of who you are as a person and as a dancer and as an artist—that’s the beauty of it to me.”
One of the Shen Yun folk dances, The Mongolian Bowl dance, was a memorable moment for Ms. Darby. This traditional Mongolian group dance features graceful women dancing whilst balancing bowls delicately on their heads, and symbolizes the strength and hospitality of the women.
“It was just something about the quietness of the piece [that] stood out to me,” she said.
“It was the sense of calm, a sense of peace, a sense of reverence that I saw.”
Another memorable moment was the last dance of the show, said Ms. Darby. The dance, entitled Divine Mercy, highlights present-day human rights abuses and spiritual persecution in China, and symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
“The last scene that all came together—it was kind of like coming to a place of serenity, and coming to a place of peace and a sense of joy and what [the Chinese] have gone through as a people and the triumph to move forward,” she said.
“It was very clear to me, the journey of the people and the journey of the culture. I think that anybody here in Western society understands going through a journey, having a struggle and being able to be successful and triumphant through that.”
Ms. Darby said she would recommend Shen Yun to anyone because it expresses humankind’s universal principles that all can relate to.
“Chinese culture is innate to [China] but we all have culture as humans, across the board, we can all relate to that so I believe that everybody can come and be entertained but at the same time take away a piece of culture and history,” she said.
“To be able to open up your eyes and open up your mind to experience something different, something new, but also being able to relate that back.”
Reporting by Sherry Dong and Justina Wheale
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun New York Company is performing in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center Opera House from Jan 30 -- Feb 3 For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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