TORONTO—Gord Biala, an executive manager, and his wife Bianca Biala were delighted with the Shen Yun Performing Arts show they saw at Toronto’s Sony Centre on Saturday.
“We like the dancing and the fact that they have an amazing orchestra,” Mr. Biala said of the New York-based classical Chinese dance group.
The dances are accompanied by a live orchestra that is comprised of a blend of Eastern and Western instruments. Its melodies are played by classical Chinese instruments, carrying the audience thousands of years back to ancient China.
The orchestra features instruments such as the erhu, the two-stringed “Chinese violin” that is said to come close to imitating the emotions of the human voice. The instrument has a 4,000-year history.
Meanwhile, the Western instruments complement the Chinese instruments by playing supporting melodies, bringing the grandeur of symphonic orchestras into the music.
“We’re sitting up front so we took a look inside [the orchestra pit] and it’s pretty impressive,” Mr. Biala said.
Mrs. Biala, a professional in the beauty industry, praised the aesthetics of the dancers’ costumes.
“Very colourful, very flowy,” she said. “There’s no weight to it.”
There is a new set of vibrant costumes for each dance, and each costume is handmade according to traditional Chinese attire.
The colourful designs range from the Tang Dynasty’s “Raiment of Rainbows and Feathers” to imperial dragon robes, phoenix coronets, and a warrior’s armour.
New York-based Shen Yun was founded in 2006 by a group of overseas artists who wanted to revive the authentic Chinese culture that was greatly diminished after the crackdown on Chinese traditions during the Cultural Revolution that lasted from the late ’60s to the early 70s, as well as other communist campaigns.
Mrs. Biala a said she was especially impressed by the vast amount of Chinese culture and history the performance was able to cover.
Reporting by Matthew Little and Amelia Pang
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Following 21 successful shows Dec. 20-Jan. 13 in Mississauga, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton, Shen Yun’s New York Company is in Toronto for five shows Jan. 17-20, completing its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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