DETROIT—“I was absolutely mesmerized, and I am incredibly grateful to Shen Yun, and to all of the performers who have so passionately preserved the history of China and have managed to somehow bring 5,000 years of their tradition to us in one evening,” said Susan Schwandt after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts grace the stage at the Detroit Opera House.
Ms. Schwandt, the public relations director of the Health Alliance Plan in Detroit, saw the opening night performance on Jan. 24 and summed up New York-based Shen Yun’s mission very well.
Through classical Chinese dance, an orchestra comprised of both Western and Chinese instruments, through award-winning soloists, striking handmade costumes, and a digitally enhanced projected backdrop, Shen Yun aims to revive and restore the traditional arts, beauty, and virtues of ancient China.
“It was an incredibly beautiful performance. I was also fascinated by the precision of the dancers, the choreography, the screen [where] the dancers would leap off the screen—I have never seen anything like that. It was beautifully done, beautifully done,” she said.
The backdrops Ms. Schwandt is describing is interactive, so that the animation on screen seems to come alive in the form of the live dancers.
In speaking of Shen Yun’s costume, Ms. Schwandt said: “The costumes were spectacular, and as a person who also likes to design clothes and make articles myself, I was very intrigued, and I am actually hungry to learn more about their costumes and some of their designs and the symbolism and the meaning. I just thought they were exquisite.”
Health Alliance Plans (HAP) is one of Shen Yun’s sponsors in Detroit.
“One of the reasons … Health Alliance Plans sponsored [Shen Yun] is that we really do believe in the power of the mind and the body connection. And as I watched Shen Yun, my heart raced when the drums pounded, my pupils dilated with excitement, and I truly believe that art and culture nourishes the soul, and that’s why HAPS supports the arts and culture and why we are so proud to sponsor the program this evening.”
The emcees who lead the audience on the journey from program to program explained the connection between art and health, as Ms. Schwandt recalled: “Something like—in ancient China, they practiced medicine using music, and the symbol used for medicine is used for music, …. I don’t think that is a coincidence.
“I think that all of us are soothed and calmed by the performing arts, and I think art gives us the opportunity to reach beyond our souls and search beyond our imaginations, and discover new cultures, new worlds. I am just absolutely fascinated by the connection.”
In speaking of some of the themes, those cultural virtues embedded in the story-based dances, Ms. Schwandt said: “The one that I think unites us all is the human yearning that good will always triumph over evil. You could see bravery come through, in practically every scene; beauty; I think a desire to connect with what is waiting for us in the next life, however each of us defines what that next life will be; and that was at least my interpretation of the performance this evening.”
As a final note, Ms. Schwandt thanked the sponsoring agency for bringing Shen Yun to Detroit and for giving HAP the opportunity to sponsor it.
“And I wish everyone good health in the coming New Year!” she said.
Reporting by Charlie Lu and Sharon Kilarski.
Shen Yun Performing Arts new York Company will perform at the Detroit Opera House through to Jan. 27. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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