HAMILTON, Canada—Among the enthusiastic audience at Shen Yun Performing Arts’ Sunday evening sold-out show was a former professional dancer who was delighted by the classical Chinese dance and music and particularly fond of seeing the precision of the large-group dances.
“I have some dancing in my background, so I’m appreciating all that beautiful dancing—precision choreography, colourful costumes. I thought it was really, really nice, very peaceful,” said Loretta Ward, whose background includes ballet and acrobatics.
Ms. Ward was performing professionally on stage when she was 3 years old, and by the time she was a teenager she was taking regular classes throughout the year and performing solo dancing across Ontario.
And as a teenager, “way back,” for three summers she performed in Toronto with the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Grandstand stage show as a member of the 60-girl chorus line called the Canadettes, like the Canadian version of the Rockettes.
The CNE Grandstand stage shows were musical variety shows from the post-World War II era up until 1968, featuring both Canadian and American entertainers
Ms. Ward had good memories from those days and “so that’s why the precision dancing is very appealing to me,” she said. “The formations that they had on stage … it’s wonderful when you’ve got that many people participating, that many dancers. They moved so beautifully, precisely together.”
Another aspect that stood out for Ms. Ward was the way the costumes coordinated with the precision movements of the dancers.
“Just flowing, very, very smooth detailed performance, just wonderful,” she commended Shen Yun.
She still dances as a senior, but “not as much as I used to,” Ms. Ward noted. “It’s something that I really have a passion for, so I do like it very much.”
So it was an excellent evening for her enjoying the performance of New York-based Shen Yun, founded in 2006 by a group of overseas Chinese artists with the wish to revive China’s 5,000-year-long traditional culture. The ancient culture, with a profoundly moral and spiritual essence, is regarded as divinely inspired.
With a collection of short pieces that highlight classical Chinese dance while including Chinese ethnic and folk dance and vocal soloists, Shen Yun tours the globe with an all-new program each year, gracing prestigious stages on five continents.
“I appreciate the young people, watching them perform, and their athleticism—it’s just gorgeous,” Ms. Ward said.
With her was her daughter, who studied contemporary choreography for four years at York University and danced ballet since she was 7 years old.
The young dancer enjoyed the show as much as her mother. “Like my mom said, it was very detailed, and the costumes tied it well, and the use of the stage was very well done,” she said.
She also gave recognition to the hard work and dedication that must go into the training in order to perform at this high level.
“You have to be fit, you have to be strong, you have to be prepared to work with different choreographers,” she said. “You have to be flexible, versatile, and mentally sound and capable.”
Family friend and fellow dancer Maureen Farrell was also please with the performance, she said.
“It’s tremendous, absolutely”
Reporting by Matthew Little and Cindy Chan.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company performed three shows in Hamilton Jan. 12-13 and is now heading to Toronto for five shows Jan. 17-20, completing its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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