CINCINNATI—Anthropology professor Adolph Greenberg said Shen Yun Performing Arts International company showed a “representation of all the diversity in China,” after taking in the performance at Aronoff Center.
Dr. Greenberg, a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Miami University of Oxford who specializes in cultural anthropology, attended the Feb. 7 performance with his wife Sandra, a retired middle school science teacher and counselor.
“I feel it’s very impressive; it’s wonderful,” he said during the intermission. “It’s nice to see 5,000 years being played out—in the diversity of traditions and beliefs and the common humanity at the same time—this intersection of all of this multi-cultural connections that you see is really impressive.”
“I am just inspired by it,” added Mrs. Greenberg. “The cultural impact, the colors, the performance is superb—it’s giving me insights that I didn’t know before and I am really appreciating learning them.”
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’s mission is to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese art forms, according to its website.
Dr. Greenberg especially enjoyed the many traditional folk dances featured in Shen Yun, which represent China’s diverse geographic and ethnic regions.
“It was just impressive because I have some background in far Eastern studies. I taught some courses, so I knew something about minority nationalities as an anthropologist,” he said.
“It was really neat to see the richness played out as performing arts and that was very impressive.”
Mrs. Greenberg said the spiritual themes of China’s traditional culture expressed through dance were inspiring.
“The history and the relationship with a spirit and how that involves the culture and the dance and the music has simply inspired me, and I’ve enjoyed all of it,” she said, adding the dancers had an ethereal quality and seemed at times to be almost weightless.
“I am still trying to figure out how they can move the way they’re moving. I’m watching their feet move, but it’s as if they’re flowing. It’s an absolutely beautiful, beautiful experience to watch. I wish I could do that.”
Dr. Greenberg added that the artists exude a deep passion for their culture and commitment to preserving it.
“I’m impressed with the intricacy of the motions and the movements and what it takes [mentally] and the heart to be able to execute that, at that level,” he said.
The artists achieved technical perfection in their dance, said Dr. Greenberg, but also brought a passion and love for their art into each movement.
“It’s just amazing, every thing from the tips of the fingers, all the way from the hands, down to the torso into the feet, it takes a level of training and knowledge [to achieve],” he said.
“But it’s much more visceral than that to me. To be executed at that level, it has to come from the heart as much of that passion I think, not in just the mechanics of something. Everybody can learn mechanics, but the other level is something else. So it’s pretty impressive,” he said.
Reporting by Charlie Lu and Justina Wheale.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. The International Company is performing in Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Feb. 7 and Feb. 8. Its next stop is Columbus, Ohio. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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