HAMILTON, Canada—Among the enchanted audience attending Shen Yun Performing Arts’ Saturday matinee at Hamilton Place Theatre was Jon Radick, owner of the Niagara Home and Health Expo.
The sold-out show was brimming with colourful performances of classical Chinese dance and music, and it delighted Mr. Radick, who runs the biannual event in St. Catharines that features exhibitors with the latest in home and health products, services, and trends..
“A really good show,” he said. “I don’t think there is anything else like this.”
“The amount of effort that went into it is just tremendous. They must spend, I would imagine, months and months if not years of training for it,” he said.
Alongside ballet, classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world. Passed down through the people, imperial courts, and ancient theatre, the dance form has gradually developed into the vast, systematic, and distinctly Chinese art form there is today.
Mr. Radick was also impressed by Shen Yun’s brightly colourful costumes. Every year, costume artists create hundreds of new tailor-made pieces inspired by countless designs of traditional clothing.
According to Shen Yun’s website, “every detail is given meticulous attention and is a result of artistic inspiration and careful polishing.”
Mr. Radick could notice the effect. “The costumes were absolutely incredible,” he said.
He also enjoyed Shen Yun’s state-of-the-art animated backdrops that extended the stage to take the audience to another world. Depicting everything from beautiful landscapes to imperial palaces and celestial realms, the innovative screens are designed to complement and synchronize every aspect of the performance, from the characters and the colours of the costumes, to the lighting and the props.
In many of the scenes, the backdrops interact with the performers, having characters flying into the screen or onto the stage.
“I thought that was very well done. It was very well choreographed,” Mr. Radick said.
“The orchestra was tremendous as well,” he added. “It is always nice to have a live orchestra, no question.”
Shen Yun’s orchestra is unique in that it combines classical Eastern and Western instruments to produce a fresh, harmonious sound.
Established in 2006 by a group of overseas Chinese artists, New York-based Shen Yun has set out to reclaim and renew China’s divinely inspired culture. It has since become the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company, touring the world to perform in over 100 cities and 5 continents.
While Mr. Radick had an idea of China’s rich history, he was impressed by the great variety presented by Shen Yun, “I wasn’t quite expecting that much variety to be quite honest,” he said.
Through its performances, Shen Yun takes its audiences on a historical tour from the country’s divinely inspired origins to the modern day, stopping along the way to visit a multitude of ethnic groups, legendary heroes, and heavenly realms.
Mr. Radick appreciated the opportunity to watch Shen Yun, but felt sad that this culture could not be expressed in today’s communist China.
“Maybe one day things will change, because here you have over a billion people and they don’t have access to this great culture. I think that is just a crime,” he said.
Throughout its over 60 years of rule, the Chinese Communist Party has systematically repressed China’s traditions, particularly the respect for the divine, which is at the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
Reporting by NTD Television and Madalina Hubert.
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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