TORONTO—Shen Yun Performing Arts’ presentation of the Middle Kingdom’s traditional culture through classical Chinese dance was something entirely new for Christine Conrad, a former ballet dancer.
“We enjoyed the show extremely well. I have never been exposed to classical Chinese culture and especially dance,” said Ms. Conrad, who attended the performance with her mother.
“It was very interesting to watch.”
Ms. Conrad trained in ballet and modern dance and was one of the first graduates from the York University Faculty of Fine Arts’ dance program in Toronto. She performed in Canada and the United States, dancing with a company that was associated with the Toronto Dance Festival.
She praised Shen Yun’s dancers and the synchronicity displayed in the large-scale dance pieces.
“Excellent, excellent dancers,” she said. “You see the unison—all the dancers were at a level that they looked like one. And especially in the way they were dancing, they were meant to be as one and you could see that.”
Since its inception in 2006, Shen Yun has brought together the talents of world-class dancers, choreographers, singers, and musicians from around the globe to fulfill its mission of reviving the essence of China’s 5,000-year-old culture.
Ms. Conrad enjoyed the traditional aspect of the performance.
“I think it was absolutely excellent because I think it appeals to us as North Americans,” she said, adding that she also liked the blend of Chinese and Western instruments in the Shen Yun orchestra.
“Excellent. The marrying of what we would classify as traditional with their Chinese—it was very good.”
Shen Yun’s costumes with their broad array of colours and styles was something that impressed Ms Conrad’s mother, Edzia Fijal.
“Beautiful. I enjoyed the show tremendously and I liked the costumes,” she said.
“They were simple but they were elegant,” said her daughter. “I don’t know anything about the classical Chinese but I thought that in context with what they were trying to depict that they were wonderful.”
They were also impressed with the animated backdrops, which interact with some of the dances to help tell the story.
“Good marrying of the old with the new. We did comment on the way that how simple it was yet how effective it was with the backdrop, bringing in the old with the new,” said Ms. Conrad.
“I enjoyed it very much,” said Ms. Fijal.
Reporting by Matthew Little and Joan Delaney
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 will play five shows in Toronto Jan. 17-20, completing its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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