PHILADELPHIA—Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage at Philadelphia’s Merriam Theatre, on May 9, pleasing Philadelphia’s most renowned arts patrons, Carole Price Shanis and Joseph Shanis.
“Really beautiful,” Mrs. Shanis enthused. “They’re all so graceful, they seem to float on the stage.”
The couple has provided decades of support to Philadelphia’s arts and cultural organizations—including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Speaking at intermission, Mrs. Shanis was already quite taken with the high-level artistic performance. “The classical dances are gorgeous, just gorgeous,” she said.
Classical Chinese dance, at the core of a Shen Yun performance, has drawn “profound wisdom from every era and dynasty,” and through thousands of years has become “one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world,” states Shen Yun’s website. Fundamental training, training in movements and postures, and the ability to master very difficult jumping and tumbling techniques are essential for Shen Yun’s dancers.
Mrs. Shanis especially enjoyed How the Monkey King Came to Be, a dance depicting the central character in China’s classic novel Journey to the West Born out of a rock, Monkey King has magical powers that allow him to travel freely between Heaven and Earth.
His adventures lead him into trouble in Heaven, and a Buddha traps him in his palm. Monkey King is eventually appointed to guard a monk journeying westward for Buddhist scriptures. The digital backdrops enhance the performances like the Monkey King. The dancers on stage interact with and even appear to become the figures on the screen.
“They feel like they’re just popping right out of the screen,” she said. “Unbelievable, really unbelievable.”
As for what she will tell her friends, Mrs. Shanis has very straightforward advice.
“You have to see this.”
Reporting by Pamela Tsai and Zachary Stieber.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. The season concludes this month with performances in Honolulu and Buffalo.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
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