TORONTO—Shen Yun Performing Arts made a strong impression on fashion designer Kat Zitnak at its opening night show at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Thursday.
“I loved it, it was such a stunning performance, like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Ms. Zitnak.
The designer has been in business for about two years, designing everything from wedding gowns to armour, she said. Ms. Zitnak is a graduate of the Academy of Design and interned at Jason Meyers.
She was taken with Shen Yun’s brightly coloured costumes, hundreds of which are hand-tailored each year for Shen Yun’s all-new show.
“It was stunning — the costuming, the show in general, the movements, it was all very beautiful,” she said.
“It just sent shivers down your spine. It was wonderful.”
Ms. Zitnak took note of Shen Yun’s varied and unique use of colour in its costuming.
“It was very elaborate in general,” she said. “You saw everything from contrasting colours to blends of all in one shade.”
Her favourite was the dance Phoenix Fairies.
“They wore the dark blue gradient to the light and they were covered in crystals with just an orange scarf that was draped over the shoulders,” she said. “They were beautiful.”
That piece features Shen Yun’s female dancers portraying phoenix maidens soaring in a secluded paradise with shimmering skirts that echo the star-speckled sky.
Ms. Zitnak said she felt like she was up in the clouds with them. “You felt like you were a part of what was going on stage,” she added.
Shen Yun’s designers stress harmonic balance and contrast. According to the company website,“their objective is an authentic presentation of the attire that comes from China’s divinely inspired traditional culture, and a consummate stage effect.”
“They were very well done, between all the headpieces and all the embroidery… It’s really stunning, it’s gorgeous. They did such an excellent job with all the detail work and all the flow of the fabrics and the different variety of colours and pieces,” said Ms. Zitnack.
She appreciated how those colours and designs accentuated the dances being staged.
“I really love the movement in the whole show,” she said. “I love the way the skirts move and the incredibly long sleeves… They’re stunning for dance.”
The designer said she took ideas from the colour combinations and movement of the pieces that she might use in her own designs.
For Ms. Zitnak, the performance was a moving experience.
“It was just a continuous energy, lots of emotion to it. You could really feel what the dancers were trying to portray.”
Shen Yun presents mainly classical Chinese dance, an ancient tradition passed down and enriched dynasty after dynasty for thousands of years.
She said the show had a lot of excitement, particularly the dance When Shaolin Monks Protected the Emperor.
“They were a little bit mischievous, they were having a little bit of fun in picking on each other. Each scene had its own very distinct emotion and was lots of fun.”
“The choreography is wonderful, how everybody moves in sync, it’s very well done.”
Ms. Zitnak said she also enjoyed Shen Yun unique digital projections, animated backdrops that synchronize and harmonize all aspects of the performance, from the characters to the colours of the costumes and music from the orchestra.
“I really liked how they worked together,” she said of the dancers and the backdrop.
“It wasn’t just a piece that was sitting behind them. They would jump into it and fly out of it.”
“The interaction was wonderful, it really added something that I’ve never seen in any sort of ballet or any sort of play before.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Matthew Little
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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