HOUSTON—Chinese martial arts and Texas ranching have an affinity, according to rancher John Elick. Mr. Elick and his wife Mrs. Taunia Elick are lawyers. They own a ranch and an inn. The couple saw Shen Yun on Dec. 27 at the Jones Hall for Performing Arts, and brought friends from New York who like the fine performing arts.
“I studied martial arts and Kung-Fu, at a Shaolin temple, and I wanted to see [the show]” Mr. Elick said. “I’m a rancher and I studied martial arts … and we have a lot of Chinese visitors who want to be Texas cowboys, so it’s not unusual.”
Classical Chinese dance features many demanding tumbling, jumping, and flipping techniques. Chinese martial arts has similar form and roots, but evolved to serve a different purpose.
The dance When Shaolin Monks Protected the Emperor, told the story of why the Tang dynasty’s founder, Emperor Tang Taizong, lifted the ban on meat at the Shaolin monastery. The lighthearted dance combines the challenging techniques and storytelling.
“They’re very athletic and can move. They’ve got balance,” Mr. Elick said of the male dancers.
“It looked very easy, but I know it wasn’t,” Mrs. Elick said.
A common misconception is that these tumbling and flipping techniques are drawn from gymnastic or acrobatics. In fact, both originated in classical Chinese dance. In addition to the emphasis on technique, classical Chinese dance also focuses on form and bearing—each and every pose is specific, and serves to “express the innermost transformation of one’s emotions,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
“It was beautiful, it was wonderful. It was very entertaining,” said Mrs. Elick.
Reporting by NTD Television and Catherine Yang.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. The Shen Yun International Company will be performing in Houston through Jan. 1. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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