TORONTO—Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage at the Sony Centre on Saturday, pleasing the sold-out audience with a revival of one of the most ancient cultures in the world.
Based in New York, Shen Yun has one mission: to revive the divinely inspired Chinese culture, one that spans back 5,000 years.
Through classical Chinese dance—one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world—accentuated by handmade costumes and original music, Shen Yun presents stories and legends from across the vast land of China throughout its different dynasties and eras.
Mansour Safdari, an English and culture professor at York University and Seneca College, took in and enjoyed the performance.
“Honestly I had goose bumps,” he said. “It was very interesting. I definitely want to encourage everyone to come and see this show.”
Mr. Safdari teaches many Chinese students in his classes so he wanted to learn more about the culture. He found Shen Yun “very edifying and educating, and also at the same time very entertaining.”
Imparting a culture through artistic elements works very well, said Mr. Safdari.
There’s no way better than introducing culture and the way people live through art, because that’s how people are entertained, at the same time interested and educated.
—Culture Professor Mansour Safdari
“There’s no way better than introducing culture and the way people live through art, because that’s how people are entertained, at the same time interested and educated,” he said.
Besides vocal soloists who sing Chinese lyrics in the bel canto operatic style, another unique musical element of Shen Yun is an orchestra that “masterfully blends two of the world’s greatest classical music traditions,” according to the company’s website.
Ancient Chinese instruments, such as the 4,000-year-old erhu (two-stringed Chinese violin), lead the melodies on top of a full Western orchestra, including strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass.
“The Western orchestra with its energy and grandeur, and the Chinese instruments with their distinct tones and styles, create a dramatic new sound,” explains the website.
The erhu impressed Mr. Safdari. “It was very delicate,” he said, as did the soprano singing.
More than a dozen mini-drama pieces ranging in length up to 10 minutes are presented during the Shen Yun performance. From the birth of the Chinese civilization millenia ago, the audience is taken through different locales and time periods.
In the end, Shen Yun was a great choice, and “very aesthetically pleasing,” said Mr. Safdari.
“I would say it has all the package of entertainment, education, and enjoyment.”
With reporting by NTD Television and Zachary Stieber
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Following 21 successful shows Dec. 20-Jan. 13 in Mississauga, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton, Shen Yun’s New York Company finishes its run of five shows in Toronto on Sunday. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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