SAN DIEGO—”It’s amazing. I think the female dancers are like angels floating across the stage,” said Joe Smith, Director of Public Works for National City, after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts, Dec. 26, at the San Diego Civic Theatre.
Shen Yun is a New York-based dance and music company with the expressed mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. It has grown to three companies that tour the world simultaneously.
Classical Chinese dance, with its thousands of years history, is rich and expressive. According to the Shen Yun website, through the dancers’ bearing and form, beautiful movements bring out the inner meaning of intrinsic thoughts and feelings that reflect the many aspects of human nature and even the standards of human conduct and one’s value system.
Mr. Smith recognized this. He said, “I’m learning a lot about the different stories. I didn’t realize the intricacies, and how everything is so precise. Every hand gesture, every movement tells a story; it’s just amazing. Even though they’re not saying anything, and it’s all done in dance, you can tell what the storyline is by their movements, by their hand gestures, by their head movements, whatever it is. It tells the exact story, word for word, without saying anything.”
“It was well worth the money. We’re really enjoying ourselves,” he added.
Accompanying Mr. Smith were Diana Swenson, a minister, and Ann Hubbard, a professor at Grossmont College, along with Ms. Hubbard’s daughter.
When asked about the performance, Rev. Swenson said, “Powerful. We have several children with us. … So they are really watching all of the movements. They are very impressed with it, and they are very excited.”
She added that the Shen Yun dancers have inspired them: “It’s a fantastic show. I have never seen anything like it before. It was very interesting to watch.
Both Mr. Smith and Rev. Swenson enjoyed the digital backdrops which serve as “magical windows to completely different realms,” according to the website. They take the audience “from vast open grasslands in one dance to the stately elegance of Tang Dynasty pavilions in another.”
The music was fantastic. I didn’t realize that they would have a live orchestra.
Shen Yun’s Orchestra was a special surprise for Rev. Swenson. She said, “The music was fantastic. I didn’t realize that they would have a live orchestra. It is very lovely. I am thinking about how much rehearsal goes into all of this. I didn’t expect the soprano; that was lovely.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra is unique in that it blends Western philharmonic instruments with traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu, pipa, and dizi and creates a unique and pleasing sound. The performance also includes vocal soloists who use the bel canto vocal technique while singing Chinese lyrics.
Ms. Hubbard is a fan. It was her second time seeing Shen Yun Perform, and this time she brought her daughter, Madelina.
Ms. Hubbard was noticeably impressed. “It’s fantastic. We really enjoy Chinese traditional dance. It transports you to another place—we love everything about it.”
Ms. Hubbard’s daughter, Madelina, interjected, “Mama, can I say something? I love everything about Shen Yun. It’s really cool how the screen comes to life. It looks like it’s really real.” She was referring to the digital, animated backdrop that adds depth, imagination, and beauty to each piece in the performance.
As an educator, Ms. Hubbard said she tries to educate her Chinese students about Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese discipline that is being persecuted in China. The performance includes a couple of pieces depicting the moral fortitude of those being suppressed.
Shen Yun Touring Company will perform Dec. 27 at San Diego Civic Center before moving north to Escondido to perform at the California Center for the Arts from Dec. 28 to Dec. 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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