MONTREAL—It was the spiritual themes in Shen Yun Performing Arts that really struck a chord with Radha-Prema McAllister when she saw the show at Montreal’s Place Des Arts on Saturday afternoon.
“I particularly appreciated the spiritual aspect and just how a spiritual culture is presented,” said Ms. McAllister, a former stage manager who now works at Pointe-Claire Public Library as teen services librarian.
“We live in a very godless, consumerist society where people don’t have any values, they don’t have any culture, so to see a huge presentation like this is widely appreciated, and to have it based on spirituality is just very enlightening,” she said.
“When you return to a base that is very spiritually rooted, well then there’s actually something to go on. There is a lasting culture. [Shen Yun] is not just entertainment, and that’s what I appreciated most, it’s not just entertainment.”
Ms. McAllister’s companion, Damodar Paquette, a student, was equally impressed by the depth of the performance.
“After seeing this, you feel elevated,” he said. “The ideas that are promoted are elevating. You feel your consciousness is purified by it.”
Ms. McAllister said she was especially moved upon hearing Do Not Lose Your Way by soprano Pi-Ju Huang.
“This is the song that touched me most because everything there is true. … We come from ancient tradition as well, we come from Indian spirituality,” she said. “This touched me because this is also my own personal belief.”
Since its inception in 2006, New York-based Shen Yun has brought together the talents of world-class dancers, choreographers, singers, and musicians from around the globe to fulfill its mission of reviving China’s authentic traditional culture.
The hallmark of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, an ancient art form that stresses refinement of inner character as well as physical technique.
Both Ms. McAllister and Mr. Paquette were bowled over by the calibre of the dancers.
“There was one male dancer in particular, he had this presence. … He was impressive, like he embodied the dance. He was feeling the dance, not just going through the motions,” said Mr. Paquette.
“He wasn’t just moving, he was embodying the dance,” agreed Ms. McAllister. “When you see somebody like that—it’s so impressive to watch them, you cannot take your eyes off them.”
Shen Yun showcases story-based dances that depict myths and legends from ancient China as well as topical issues affecting people in the contemporary China of today, including the peaceful resistance of practitioners of the Falun Dafa spiritual discipline, also known as Falun Gong, in response to persecution by the communist regime.
Ms. McAllister said one such piece, An Unexpected Encounter, moved her to tears.
Despite snowy conditions and temperatures dipping to minus 20 Celsius, the Saturday afternoon performance drew a full house. In fact, all five Shen Yun shows scheduled for Place Des Arts Jan. 3–6 sold out ahead of time.
“All in all it was very beautiful,” Mr. Paquette said of the show.
Reporting by Donna He and Joan Delaney.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company will play five shows in Montreal Jan. 3-6 and one show in Quebec City Jan. 8 before going on to Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, and Toronto in its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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