ATLANTA—For years, Sales Director Stephanie Ford had wanted her adopted Chinese child to connect to her heritage by watching Shen Yun Performing Arts. On Jan. 6, she was finally able to take her child to watch the performance at the Cobb Energy Centre in Atlanta.
“I think it’s excellent,” Mrs. Ford said. “We looked this up a couple of years ago, but this year is the first year she would be old enough to enjoy it.”
Her daughter smiled and nodded enthusiastically, while enjoying an Oreo cookie.
“The cultural aspect of China is very interesting,” Mrs. Ford said.
Unfortunately, many Chinese cultural relics were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976. Even today, many aspects of traditional Chinese culture are not celebrated in China. Instead, the Chinese Communist Party continues to alter history text books and cultural performances for political purposes.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, a New York based group, was founded in 2006 by a group of overseas Chinese artists who wanted to revive Chinese culture.
Ford said she also enjoyed the music. The dances are accompanied by the Shen Yun Orchestra, which has a combination of Eastern and Western instruments.
All of Shen Yun’s music are original pieces composed by world-class professionals. Its melodies are played by instruments such as the erhu, a two-stringed instrument that is said to have the capacity to imitate a human voice. Although songs are written in in Chinese musical styles, but the orchestra also captures the grandeur of western symphonic pieces.
“I enjoyed the music,” Mrs. Ford said.
Mrs. Ford said she also especially enjoyed interactive digital backdrop. “I wasn’t expecting the technology aspect of it. I thought that was quite interesting,” she said.
In addition to dance and music, Shen Yun also incorporates state-of-the-art digital technology to create unique backdrops for each dance and vocal performance.
The animated backdrops whisk the audience to lavish Mongolian fields and snowy Himalayan mountain peaks.
“I think we were very fortunate to be right up front with the colors and everything,” she said.
Despite Shen Yun’s serious mission statement, its performance adds a charming blend of humor that keeps children engaged.
“My daughter is 7 and she really enjoyed it,” Mrs. Ford said. “I was surprised there were some funny parts in it … I wasn’t expecting that, that was quite fun.”
Classical Chinese dance is the most comprehensive dance system in the world. The dancers must perfect advanced leaps, spins, jumps, and flips.
“I know it takes an enormous amount of discipline and years of practice to put that kind of a show together,” Mrs. Ford said.
“ I know it’s years of dedication but it does pay off,” she said. “It gives that much pleasure to people. It’s beautiful.”
Mrs. Terry Morgan, a flight attendant for Delta, also brought her adopted Chinese daughter to the show on Jan. 6.
“I loved it, I just thought it was so beautiful. The dancing was just exquisite,” Mrs. Morgan said.
Shen Yun has two dances that raise awareness of China’s human rights abuses. The stories always end with a positive theme of goodness prevailing over evil.
“The parts about the persecution are a bittersweet reminder of why we have our girls,” she said. “I thought it was important to have that in there.”
Reporting by Mary Silver and Amelia Pang.
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 at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre from Jan. 8-9. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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