COLUMBUS, Ohio—When Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage at the Ohio Theatre, the audience was gratified to see a revival of one of the longest spanning cultures in existence.
“It all came together—the music, the costumes, and certainly the performers and their abilities and talents,” said John Lanning, an interior and architectural designer. “You can’t take that for granted—everything synchronized so right, on point—it was so good. So we know everyone put their heart in it 110 percent. We appreciate it.”
Mr. Lanning and his wife Laura Wolery, a doctor, are ballroom dancers, and Mrs. Wolery is also an artist.
For Mrs. Wolery, the handmade costumes adorning the dancers were fantastic; she said she loved them and the myriad props, including the handkerchiefs, lotus flowers, and ribbons.
Presenting 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture, Shen Yun transports the audience through time—through different dynasties and eras—and space—across the vast land of China, according to the company’s website. Based in New York, the company travels to over 100 cities every year.
Classical Chinese dance, an art form that is one of the most difficult to master, forms the base of a Shen Yun performance, along with ethnic and folk dance.
Mrs. Wolery said the dancers were good actors. “Sometimes they were funny, sometimes they were frightened, sometimes they were reverent,” she said.
Through vignettes less than 10 minutes each, Shen Yun delves into Chinese culture through its vast library of lore, presenting legends and myths as well as different minority groups. The traditional culture gives the company much to draw from.
“Sophisticated dance techniques, an orchestra joining instruments East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop—this is Shen Yun at first glance,” states the company’s website. “But digging deeper, one discovers a sea of traditional Chinese culture. Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience. Originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, these ideals are the essence of traditional Chinese culture.”
The vocal soloists that are interspersed with the dance pieces connected with Mrs. Wolery: “very inspiring,” and Mr. Lanning: “You could just feel the emotion from what they were singing.”
As the tenors and sopranos sing in Chinese, an English translation is shown on the digital backdrop.
The performance “was very inspiring and very relaxing.” Mrs. Wolery said it made her think “about some of the deeper meanings of life.”
“Especially the songs,” she added. “I think the songs were wonderful.”
The songs are all original compositions, according to Shen Yun’s website.
“Brimming with philosophical reflection about human life and deep layers of meaning, they traverse the boundaries of nation, race, and culture and have been fondly received and appreciated the world over,” the website explains. “Some audience members even call Shen Yun’s songs ‘hymns.’”
Mrs. Wolery said she was going to describe her wonderful experience on Facebook.
Mr. Lanning said the performance inspired him to remember to keep going when times are tough, and to do the right thing. Overall, the performance was welcome night out for the couple.
“It was a joy,” said Mr. Lanning. “It was a pleasing experience.”
Reporting by Teresa Liu and Zachary Stieber.
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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