KITCHENER-WATERLOO, Canada—Shen Yun Performing Arts finished its two-day run at Centre in the Square with a sold-out performance on Friday night.
For former dean of arts at the University of Waterloo Brian Hendley, Shen Yun was a surprise he thoroughly enjoyed.
His wife Margaret Hendley said she liked the combination of colour, athleticism and grace that Shen Yun presented.
With them was their granddaughter Meghan, who has studied ballet since she was three.
“It’s inspiring,” she said. “I thought it was awesome.
I didn’t know how they did it, but it looks really cool how they were jumping.”
Now retired, Mr. Hendley was a professor of philosophy and author, educated at Yale.
Aware of the history of cultural repression in China, Mr. Hendley was surprised by what Shen Yun presented, not realizing the company was based in New York, rather than mainland China.
“I had started out pleased that China was allowing this glorification of the past,” he said.
Shen Yun was founded on a mission to revive 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture, a heritage nearly destroyed after 60 years of communist rule, most notably the Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976. This period was catastrophic for Chinese traditional culture.
Mrs. Hendley noted there was a distinction between the Chinese regime of today and the traditional culture of that land.
After watching the first half, Mrs. Hendley said she was left with “a feeling of wonder and beauty.”
Her granddaughter quite enjoyed Shen Yun’s state-of-the-art graphics technology, a digital backdrop that creates vividly animated settings that extend the stage to worlds where heaven and earth come together.
“You wouldn’t expect that, looking at the flyers, all the technology put into it,” said Meghan.
Her grandparents also appreciated the visual backdrops.
“I thought the one particularly with the water, it was very beautiful, said Mrs. Hendley.
The water was in the dance “Sand Monk is Blessed,” a segment of the beloved classical Chinese novel “Journey to the West.”
In the dance, a little girl falls prey to a shape-shifting river ogre, but as the village mourns her loss, a group of pilgrims arrives on the scene.
“The fish and the water that was flowing, the movement of it was very beautiful,” said Meghan.
Her grandfather agreed.
“I like it and I’ve never seen a combination of the technology and the dance like that. Come off the screen and go back onto the screen, very amazing,” said Mr. Hendley.
Classical Chinese dance has a history of thousands of years, passed down and enriched dynasty after dynasty. Like “Sand Monk is Blessed,” many of the dances are mini-dramas that draw upon China’s rich heritage of stories and legends, from ancient myths and bygone heros to scenes in celestial paradises.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. With its two shows in Kitchener-Waterloo now finished, Shen Yun’s New York Company will go on to Hamilton (Jan. 12-13) for three shows and finish its tour of eastern Canada in Toronto (Jan. 17-20) with five shows at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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