TORONTO—Ben Hum, president of the North American Association of Asian Professionals (NAAAP) Toronto Chapter, came to the Sony Centre to enjoy colourful performances of song and dance by Shen Yun Performing Arts on Saturday afternoon.
The world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company is in the city for a five-show run and Mr. Hum was impressed.
“The show is magnificent,” he said.
An award-winning entrepreneur, in 2000 Mr. Hum co-founded the NAAAP’s Toronto Chapter, now one of the leading chapters in the NAAAP network spanning 27 U.S. and Canadian cities, honoured with many awards of excellence.
In his career Mr. Hum has started up several businesses, including the IT consulting firm Visionis Corporation where he currently serves as president.
He is also a member of the Chinese Advisory Cabinet at SickKids Foundation and AFP Foundation for Philanthropy (Canada), among other professional affiliations.
Mr. Hum said he felt inspired by both the performances and the dancers.
“I think it’s the calibre of the performances that are taking place on stage. Because it’s so smooth,” he said.
“When I look at the performers, I can see that it’s actually quite intensive in terms of the physical exertions that they have in order to accomplish everything they do on stage,” he said.
“But they make it looks so easy. So it’s really enjoyable to see that.”
Established in 2006, New York-based Shen Yun has set out “to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China,” according to the company’s mission statement.
Shen Yun features performances of classical Chinese dance, which alongside ballet is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world.
I found that the performances really inspired a message of peace and harmony and cooperation, as well as appreciation for our history and our culture.
—President of NAAAP, Ben Hum
Passed down through the people, imperial courts, and ancient theatre, it has grown to develop “into the vast, systematic, and distinctly Chinese dance form that we know today,” states the program book.
“The performers are quite young, so I can certainly appreciate how much training that they’ve had to undertake in order to display a performance of this magnitude,” Mr. Hum said.
Something also struck him about the artists.
“They’re proud of their culture. There’s a lot of history that makes up the performances and I can appreciate that they’re very passionate about what they do,” he said.
As someone of Chinese background, Mr. Hum was especially glad to see the 5,000-year-old culture displayed on stage.
“[China] certainly has one of the longest histories in the world in terms of a culture, in terms of achievement for civilization. So it’s always good for this generation, especially the younger generation, to learn about that and to appreciate the heritage that they come from,” he said.
“And I can see that this show is really a well-rounded show that’s good for the entire family and kids of all ages.”
Mr. Hum was also inspired by the artistry and the spirituality conveyed by Shen Yun.
“The entire production of the show was quite well-executed, and I found that the performances really inspired a message of peace and harmony and cooperation, as well as appreciation for our history and our culture,” he said.
Mr. Hum felt it is important for people to appreciate their cultural background and history and share it with other people. He was happy to see Shen Yun was able to bring Chinese culture to so many.
“When I look out in the audience of the Sony Centre, there are people of all backgrounds and it’s wonderful to see that they come here to actually experience our culture and history. Especially now that Chinese New Year is just around the corner,” he said.
Mr. Hum heartily advised his friends to come to the show.
“I would recommend for them to actually come out and check it out, because unless you actually come out and see it for yourself, it’s really hard to explain what the show is all about on paper,” he said.
“Because when you see it come to life, it’s quite another experience.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Madalina Hubert
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 is in Toronto for five shows Jan. 17-20, completing its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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