CINCINNATI—Magician and stage illusionist James Partington found magic and inspiration in classical Chinese dance on Thursday, as he took in Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Aronoff Center.
James Partington, who performs under the name Magic Donovan, has practiced magic on stages around the world for the past 40 years. He was at the Feb. 7 evening Shen Yun performance with his stage assistant Nina, and said the experience was wonderful.
“[The show was] amazing, the colors, the costumes and the routines were just awesome,” he said.
“It was just breathtaking, it was gorgeous,” added Nina. “It was one of the most creative things I have ever seen.”
Mr. Partington was particularly captivated by Shen Yun’s digitally animated backdrops, which add context and color to each story-based dance, and are perfectly timed with the dancers to appear as if they can jump in and out of the screen.
“I thought that was awesome, it was a nice concept and [I want to] figure out how to use that in my shows,” he said.
“I thought that was a really nice touch, the artwork shows up on the screen and how it was animated—I like that a lot, that was one of my favorite parts.”
Nina added the split-second timing it took for the performers to create the illusion of jumping into the digital screen was impeccable.
“That was unbelievable—I was just blown away by it, it gave me chills,” she said, adding she appreciated learning about traditional Chinese culture through dance.
“I like that artistic form and the traditional dance.”
New York-based Shen Yun is a world-renowned classical Chinese dance and music company, with a mission to revivie 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. Formed in 2006, by overseas Chinese artists, the company has grown to include three dance companies and three orchestras, totaling some 300 artists. Every year the performance tours to around 20 countries and 100 cities.
Though it travels to nearly every corner of the world, Shen Yun cannot be seen in mainland China today, where traditional culture and art forms remain suppressed. A dance that tells a story of good versus evil in today’s China—the communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice.
“I like that reality touch of the show,” said Mr. Partington. “It makes you think a little about it, what struggles other countries were going through and still going through so, it’s a good wake up call for everybody to look at—we need to do something about it.”
Nina adored the hundreds of handmade costumes featured in Shen Yun.
“They’re vibrant, I thought they were breathtaking—the way the costumes move with their movements,” she said.
“I just like the way the whole thing flows and how everything came together,” added Mr. Partington.
Mr. Partington said Shen Yun is entertaining for everyone.
“I highly recommend it, if anyone has the chance to check it out they should,” he said.
“Absolutely, it’s spectacular,” added Nina.
Reporting by Charlie Lu and Justina Wheale.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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