HOUSTON—Shen Yun Performing Arts’ revival of traditional Chinese art forms was a delight for the Cunningham family Saturday night, Dec. 29, at the Jones Hall for Performing Arts in Houston.
“I think it’s beautiful,” said Mr. Scott Cunningham, prestigious lawyer and founder of the Cunningham Law Firm in Houston. “The dances are beautiful.”
“It’s been fabulous,” said Ms. Katherine Cunningham, who is trained in ballet and jazz. “It’s great to see the traditional style of the Chinese dance.”
The New York-based company performs an all-new show every year, bringing to life China’s rich culture and history through the arts, like classical Chinese dance and ethnic and folk dances.
“I love the way it moves. It’s consistently moving and interweaving with each other and just—it’s totally eye-catching,” said Ms. Katherine Cunningham.
Alongside ballet, classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world and has three components. The first is technical skills, which includes the difficult flipping, jumping, and tumbling techniques that acrobatics and gymnastics originate from. The second is form, which emphasizes pose and posture down to the very last detail, and the third is bearing, or an “inner spirit” that provides an emotional core for every movement, according to Shen Yun’s website.
“The hands are so much more of an integral part of the dance,” Ms. Angelique Cunningham said, noting the uniformity of the dancers’ long silk sleeves in many of the dances. “There must be a lot more going on with the choreography of the hands to make the sleeves look the way they do.”
“They [the dancers] are beautiful, and their technique is fabulous,” Ms. Katherine Cunningham said.
Shen Yun performs a variety of dances, transporting the audience from scenes in the epic Journey to the West to a celestial palace where Phoenix Fairies dance.
“It gives you a glimpse into Chinese storytelling,” Ms. Angelique Cunningham said. “I love story, I love storytelling, I love watching stories. I like to see other forms of dance where you can actually see a story being told.
“I really like the background, the backdrop, to get an idea where some of these dances are coming from. The scenery, seeing where the dance comes from based.”
Mr. Scott Cunningham said the art forms showed China’s “real cultural connection.”
“They come from a people, that are just like we are, and you can connect on a human level,” Mr. Cunningham said of the ethnic and folk dances. “The dance tells the story. It’s a universal kind of truth among a lot of cultures. Not just Chinese but everybody. … Something born out of an expression from nature.”
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company will be performing in Houston through January 1. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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