Performing Arts School Owner Sees Passion, Commitment in Shen Yun Dancers

Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 3, 2013 Last Updated: February 3, 2013
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Larry Cervi, who owns a performing arts school, at Shen Yun Preforming Arts in Pittsburgh on Feb. 2. (The Epoch Times

Larry Cervi, who owns a performing arts school, at Shen Yun Preforming Arts in Pittsburgh on Feb. 2. (The Epoch Times

PITTSBURGH—Larry Cervi, who owns a performing arts school, said he was spellbound by Shen Yun Performing Arts in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

“I was extremely impressed with the formations and the way the patterns worked,” he said after seeing Shen Yun at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.”I had a ballet teacher who’s here tonight from my school and I guarantee you she’s going to try some of those maneuvers. She loved it.”

The Larry Cervi School of Performing Arts, trains dancers in multiple styles, including ballet, jazz, and lyrical dance. The school has been around for 27 years and has about 450 students, from age 3 through 60, said Mr. Cervi.

Shen Yun, based in New York, tours the world purveying ancient, traditional Chinese culture.

“A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending the sounds of both East and West, breathtaking backdrops, splendid costumes, singers—together creating an experience that’s leaving millions in awe,” states the company’s website.

The performance was an experience that Mr. Cervi will not forget anytime soon.

“I have binoculars and I’m looking at the faces, and every single dancer was there, was committed—you could see they danced with passion,” he said. Sitting in the first balcony, he had a perfect view of the choreography, and felt transporting all the way to the stage.

The series of short dance pieces begins at the dawn of the Chinese civilization and moves through different dynasties, eras, stories, and legends; while some pieces depict stories others show ethnic dances from some of China’s 55 official ethnic groups.

“There’s so many varieties of different styles of dance and stories and costumes and music,” said Mr. Cervi. The different dance pieces had him anticipating the next one, he said.

The dancers, adorned with handmade costumes, are schooled in classical Chinese dance, an expressive form that was passed down continuously with the imperial palace and ancient Chinese theater and opera, according to Shen Yun’s website.

“Soaking up profound wisdom from every era and dynasty, it has become a complete system of dance embodying traditional aesthetic principles with its unique dance movements, rhythms, and inner meaning,” the website states.

Mr. Cervi also appreciated the accompanying orchestra, saying whoever wrote the music must be a genius.

He also said he was surprised to learn Shen Yun cannot travel to China. Shen Yun seeks to revive traditional Chinese culture that the Chinese Communist Party has for decades sought to destroy.

“That made me sad because all those people in China don’t see this part of their culture going across to the world, and that’s very unfortunate,” he said. Some Chinese citizens have been known to fly to different parts of the world to see Shen Yun, according to interviews by The Epoch Times.

Maura Donohue, in the horticulture field, also enjoyed the Saturday evening performance.

“Brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed, it was absolutely amazing.”

The dancers of Shen Yun are often praised for complex formations and unbelievable synchronization.

Ms. Donohue said she found this as well.

“Sometimes I was focusing in on a dancer, one of them, and I’d have to step back and actually take in the whole picture,” she said. “And I found myself struggling as to what to focus on, there was just so much. Very stimulating.”

Reporting by NTD Television and Zachary Stieber.

Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company will perform in Pittsburg until Feb. 3. Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit

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