WATERBURY, Conn.—As the owner of a dance company, Colleen Duplissie has seen a lifetime’s worth of dancing, but when Shen Yun Performing Arts came to Connecticut, she couldn’t believe the precision and technique of the dancers.
“Their technique … They make it look so easy. And I know how difficult it is,” said Mrs. Duplissie, who owns the Maine Dance Academy, after seeing the performance at the Palace Theater on Thursday evening.
In Shen Yun, the dancers perform classical Chinese dance—a several-thousand-year-old art form that is systematized and capable of displaying the inner meanings of Chinese culture—as well as various ethnic and folk dances, the company says on its website.
Shen Yun portrays Chinese myths and legends, both ancient and modern, through grand-scale dances and are accompanied by Shen Yun’s unique orchestra which combines classical Western with traditional Chinese instruments.
Mrs. Duplissie said that telling a story through dance—with no words—is a “very difficult” thing to do. “As a dance teacher myself, I have to teach my students to tell a story just through their bodies,” she said.
“And watching them, they do it so beautifully. You can definitely tell what they’re doing,” she said. “You can follow along with what is happening.”
Shen Yun says that classical Chinese dance has helped China preserve its 5,000 years of culture, is based on traditional aesthetics, and has its own set of training methods. The dance has its own sets of jumps, leaps, flips, and tumbling.
“For me tonight,” Mrs. Duplissie said, “it was all about watching different formations. How they moved them quickly on and off because that’s so spectacular. It’s not hard movement, but they do it so easily.”
Her husband, Mike D’Amico, a law firm owner, praised the company’s digital backdrop, which is present throughout the performance. “I love the backdrop, where the dancers appear. I really like that,” he said.
The backdrop displays colorful and vivid settings, including ancient China, mountaintops, grassy fields, and other scenes, the company’s website states.
“The costuming is amazing. The colors are refreshing; they’re fun,” said Mr. D’Amico.
Shen Yun’s costumes are hand-made and Shen Yun’s costume artists collect countless designs of traditional attire. “Every detail is given meticulous attention and is a result of artistic inspiration and careful polishing,” the company says.
“I just like watching the emotion,” Mr. D’Amico said. “I like watching the emotion and the expression of the emotion on stage. It’s comforting.”
Shen Yun’s performances seek to revive Chinese culture by showing principles including wisdom, justice, and propriety, the company says. It adds that Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism has helped shape the culture over thousands of years.
As a dance teacher, Mrs. Duplissie said that she “would take all my students to see it. I would definitely take my students to see a show like this.”
Reporting by Hannah Cai and Jack Phillips.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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