SAN JOSE, Calif.—Five thousand years of Chinese civilization graced the stage at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday Jan. 5, impressing Mr. Dan Bowman, the former vice-president of a computer company, who attended the performance with Mrs. Mary Bowman.
Mr. Bowman said it was “more than just dance … it includes a lot of athletic ability in addition to just dance. It’s very well done, very professional.”
The New York-based company revives traditional Chinese values of the divinely-inspired culture like “values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods” through art forms like classical Chinese dance, according to its mission statement.
Mrs. Bowman was impressed with the dancers’ attention to the nuances in their movements, such as the specific hand gestures in the dances and expressions portrayed on their faces.
“They were very delicately portrayed, which I really appreciated—the fineness, the small details,” Mrs. Bowman said. “The costuming was absolutely gorgeous. I loved the costumes.”
Classical Chinese dance has three components. Technical skill, which includes a set of highly difficult jumping, leaping, and flipping techniques, while form pays attention to every detail in posture and pose. Bearing “emphasizes internal spirit, breath, intent, personal aura, and deep emotional expression,” reads Shen Yun’s website, and allows classical Chinese dance to be infinitely expressive.
“I especially enjoyed the visual, artistic portrayal of different types of life,” said Mrs. Bowman.
In addition to classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun performs ethnic and folk dances from the many regions of China.
“Chinese ethnic dance generally refers to the dance forms passed down among the many minority ethnic groups within China. Folk dance, meanwhile, refers to the popular dance styles passed down among the majority Han ethnicity, like the Yang Ge, ribbon, and handkerchief dances,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
The stories Shen Yun tells through dance date from the first dynasty to China today.
Mr. Bowman said one of the dances, which brings to light the persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Dafa in China today, was interesting and gave him a better understanding of the issue. The practice, like other elements of traditional Chinese culture, is being persecuted under the current regime in China.
“After more than 60 years of communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished,” reads Shen Yun’s website.
Likewise, Shen Yun has not been able to perform in China since its inception in 2006.
Mr. Bowman said he had a Chinese friend who had never heard of Shen Yun, which he initially found curious.
“I would encourage him to come see it. It was very good, very well done,” Mr. Bowman said.
Reporting by Gary Wang and Catherine Yang.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. The Shen Yun Touring Company will perform at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts through Jan. 6. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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