LOS ANGELES—”It was like a dream. There is perfection in the movements,” said Martha Calonga, who watched with her daughter Maritza the sold out performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts on the evening of Jan. 26 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Mrs. Calonga danced for the Ballet De La Casa De La Cultura Ecuatoriana (Ballet of the House of Ecuadorian Culture) for seven years starting from the age of 18. She was a student of Ileana Leonidoff, an internationally renowned Russian dancer in the late 1920s who invented the “Russian Dance Leonidoff.”
Mrs. Calonga, currently a nurse, thoroughly enjoyed the performance, including the costumes and choreography.
Shen Yun is a New York-based company that tours to more than 100 cities worldwide each year on a mission to revive China’s 5,000-year-old culture.
Shen Yun Performing Arts’ dance style is built upon classical Chinese dance as a foundation while also maintaining a number of ethnic and folk dances from among China’s 55 officially recognized ethnic minority groups.
Mrs. Calonga enjoyed seeing China’s diverse ethnic heritage through dance. “I can appreciate the different cultures and type of dances they have in different regions,” she said.
She also felt as though she received a glimpse of the varied landscapes and peoples throughout China’s vast land and history.
Mrs. Calonga’s daughter, Maritza Calonga, agreed with her mother, and added that she was impressed with the orchestra.
“Everything was very precise—the choreography; everything was in sync with the music,” Dr. Calonga, a physician doing a fellowship at UCLA, said. “The instruments were a mix of Eastern and Western culture. The musicians are top brass.”
The Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra combines a Western philharmonic orchestra with traditional Chinese instruments such as the erhu (Chinese violin), the pipa (Chinese lute), and dizi (bamboo flute).
In addition to the live orchestra and dancing, Shen Yun also features solo vocalists who use bel canto operatic singing while maintaining proper Chinese articulation and diction—”today, this is unparalled,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
The songs are all original compositions.
“Brimming with philosophical reflection about human life and deep layers of meaning, they traverse the boundaries of nation, race, and culture and have been fondly received and appreciated the world over,” the website explains.
Dr. Calonga expressed enthusiasm about the vocalists.
“I felt like I was at an opera, really,” she said. “Both the females and male singers were amazing. “I was sitting in the Loge area and I could still hear the sound emanate and they weren’t even using microphones. That’s amazing to me. Even high up I could hear well, it was amazing.”
Dr. Calonga found the content of the performance to go beyond cultural divides.
“I think we can all relate to the stories they were presenting,” she said. “ I feel like I could understand what they’re saying; it’s universal.”
Mrs. Calonga is sure to recommend Shen Yun to family and friends.
“I will put something on Facebook,” she said. “I will tell my friends, ‘Don’t lose this chance!’” She said that each year she has wanted to watch Shen Yun, but her daughter’s schedule wouldn’t allow it. “But this year we said ‘no, we cannot miss it.’”
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s Touring Company is performing at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, Jan. 26 -- Jan. 27. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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