SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The solo vocalists of Shen Yun Performing Arts grabbed the attention of Mr. David Jaramillo, a landscape company owner who also sings in the Sacramento Choral Society.
“It filled the entire theater. It was amazing,” he said of the Shen Yun performance at the Sacramento Community Center Theater on Jan. 2. “Very powerful voices. And it was very opera-like voices, very nice. And I like that they were singing Chinese culture, Chinese songs. I liked that.”
The New York-based company’s solo vocalists sing original pieces in Chinese, in the bel canto style, with Chinese and English lyrics projected onto the digital backdrop.
The animated backdrop extends the stage, “transporting the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one,” reads Shen Yun’s website. From celestial palaces to the snowcapped Himalayas, China’s rich culture and history is brought to life onstage.
“It was a game between the backdrop, the [animation], and also the dancers,” Mr. Jaramillo said. “And it was very well synchronized, how the dancers jumped, and immediately they appeared on the screen, and back [again].”
Mr. Jaramillo said he was impressed with the choreography and uniformity of the dancers, and that the female dances were “very gentle, very—again, synchronized. Very soothing to the eye.”
“It was amazing,” Mr. Jaramillo said of the history of the traditional dances that were performed. In addition to ethnic and folk dances, most of Shen Yun’s performances are classical Chinese dance.
Classical Chinese dance has a long history, and “soaking up profound wisdom from every era and dynasty, it has become a complete system of dance embodying traditional aesthetic principles with its unique dance movements, rhythms, and inner meaning,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
Classical Chinese dance includes many difficult jumping, flipping, and tumbling techniques, which most audience members are surprised to find are the origin of gymnastics and acrobatics.
“[It’s] eye-opening I would say, because I haven’t seen anything like this before,” Mr. Jaramillo said. “I would definitely recommend it to my friends because it’s a combination of a lot of different techniques into one culture, and you get to see a lot of things that I haven’t seen before from Chinese culture.”
Mr. Jaramillo said there were many things he learned throughout the performance.
“One of them is how the current Chinese government is suppressing the culture,” Mr. Jaramillo said.
“It talks about their ancestors, how they worked the land like everybody else,” Mr. Jaramillo said. “How they had kings or queens or in this case emperors, and they honor those emperors and they performed for those emperors.”
Since the Cultural Revolution, traditional Chinese values, and thus the traditional art forms, have not been permitted under communist rule. Shen Yun, which has the mission of reviving 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture, has not been allowed to perform in China.
“I would definitely come back next year,” Mr. Jaramillo said.
Reporting by Gary Wang and Catherine Yang.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s Touring Company will be performing in Sacramento through Jan.3. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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