HOUSTON—“I felt like the emperor of China,” said Mr. Raoul Desjardins, who watched the Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company matinee on Dec. 27 at the Jones Hall for Performing Arts in Houston from the front row.
“This is the ultimate form of singing and dancing,” said Mr. Desjardins. “This is the most spectacular show I have seen and I’m 90 years old.”
The New York-based company’s mission is to revive 5,000 years of Chinese culture traditional arts. Every year Shen Yun puts on an entirely new show featuring classical Chinese dance and ethnic and folk dances from across the country and throughout the ages, all accompanied by an orchestra that blends East and West.
“[Shen Yun] has produced a better show than anyone in the world, and I’ve been traveling all over the world,” Mr. Desjardins said.
This is the ultimate form of singing and dancing.
—Mr. Raoul Desjardins
Mr. Desjardins, director of research at the Federal Institute of Health, has been honored internationally multiple times throughout his career for his work as a physician. On a trade delegation to China, Mr. Desjardins stayed in the Summer Palace, and said it was during a period when China was poor, in economy and culture.
“I think it’s a very artistic rendition,” Mr. Desjardins said, adding that he was happy to see another side of China through the show. “This is world class.”
An animated backdrop accompanies each of Shen Yun’s dances, many of which tell stories, displaying everything from heavenly palaces to the snow-capped mountains of Tibet. Myths and legends come to life on stage as the dancers portray Phoenix Fairies, characters from the classic novel Outlaws of the Marsh, and more.
“I can only [imagine] the way it was in the imperial gardens when the emperors of all the dynasties were living,” Mr. Desjardins said. “This is throwing us back to a period where China was at its peak. … this is the forward life of China.”
In addition to the divinely inspired artistry, Mr. Desjardins said he was impressed with the rich history presented, and found meaning in every detail.
From postures to the most minute hand movements, the dancers pay attention not only to technique, but to bearing—or “inner spirit”— when performing classical Chinese dance. From the movement of their bodies to the direction of their gaze, each pose requires perfect coordination and accuracy, and every movement conveys a certain spirit, according to the Shen Yun website.
“This is the kind of show you would do for the emperor of China,” Mr. Desjardins said. “This is spectacular, magnificent!”
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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