CINCINNATI—Cincinnati Symphony’s sales director Amy Finch applauded the blending of traditional Eastern and Western instruments in the Shen Yun Performing Arts’ orchestra on Friday.
“The orchestra is wonderful,” she said. “Different instruments that we hear in our traditional Western orchestras, more percussion, but they’re very good, and I enjoyed it a lot.”
Ms. Finch, who has a bachelor’s degree in music performance and has worked with the Cincinnati Symphony for over 15 years, attended the Feb. 8 performance with Bobby Catanzaro, an inventory control specialist with a national food service company.
Mr. Catanzaro is a martial arts instructor in Tae Kwon Do, and said the athleticism of classical Chinese dance was very impressive.
“It’s awesome on … the flips, all that incorporated with the dance as well, it’s really cool,” he said. “I really enjoyed it.”
New York-based Shen Yun is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. Formed in 2006 by overseas Chinese artists, the company aims to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture, according to its website.
Ms. Finch said she learned about Chinese history through Shen Yun’s story-based dances, and loved the digitally animated backdrops, which feature scenes from China’s multi-faceted regions and geography.
“I really enjoyed it. It’s very different, very colorful. I enjoyed the multimedia,” she said. “The stories have been very easy to follow, very interesting and engaging.
“It’s fascinating—everything they put together, all the dance in with the music—it’s just really cool,” Mr. Catanzaro added.
Ms. Finch appreciated Shen Yun’s two bilingual emcees, who explain the meaning behind each story-based dance in both Chinese and English, before it plays out on stage.
“I am finding it easy to understand. I was a little worried about if I was going to be able to follow it and found that I haven’t really needed the program at all,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed the [emcees] it’s nice to have them as part of the program.”
One of the most memorable moments for Ms. Finch was a dance entitled When Shaolin Monks Protected the Emperor, which tells the story of monks from the famed Shaolin temple who were forced to battle ruffians to protect the founder of the Tang Dynasty.
“I enjoyed the part with the monks,and they were all in a line, and jumping and tumbling. I liked that part. That was really exciting,” she said.
Mr. Catanzaro was interested in the profound meanings of lyrics sung by Shen Yun’s singers using bel canto style. Performed in Chinese, the lyrics are projected with English translations on the digital backdrops.
Ms. Finch said the spiritual themes in the songs from traditional Chinese culture and beliefs had a universal element.
“Just hearing the music in your native language, but with themes that relate to all of us, regardless of our nationality, I appreciated that,” she said. “It’s been interesting to see that portrayed.”
Reporting by Charlie Lu and Justina Wheale.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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