HAMILTON, Canada—The digital projections in Shen Yun Performing Arts were an unexpected treat for accomplished animator Mike Hogue Saturday night.
Mr. Hogue has worked on movies from Titan A.E. to Anastasia and television shows like Jacob Two-Two and George of the Jungle. He shared the 2010 Platinum “Pixie” Award for Best Special FX Animation in an Animated Series for his work on Stoked.
The backdrops came as a surprise he said, something he didn’t expect from the materials he had read about the show.
“It starts off very simple … Then when you all of a sudden have these surprises of people coming out of the screen, it’s just, ‘Oh my gosh, okay, this is something really different, really innovative.’”
Shen Yun’s state-of-the-art backdrops are windows to different realms, from open grasslands to Tang Dynasty pavilions. Designed to complement and harmonize all aspects of the performance, from characters and the colour of costumes to dance movements, props and notes played by the orchestra, the scenes projected behind the dancers also interact with the performers in a way Mr. Hogue did not expect.
As an expert in the field, he noticed things about the digital animations that others missed, like how the flowing river in the dance Sand Monk is Blessed, slows down when the dancers do a fight scene in slow motion.
Or that the degree of accuracy it required to blend live dance with digital animation and a philharmonic orchestra was a feat in its own right.
“It was wonderful. It was wonderful sitting here taking it all in, just having all the different varieties of performances, the singing, the instrumentals, the dance, it was all just so wonderful,” he said.
“I was really impressed with the choreography and how all the dancers stayed perfectly in sync, but also how when they exit the stage and enter into the screen. It’s all so perfectly timed. I was paying special attention to that.”
Employment specialist Thary Phy who accompanied Mr. Hogue was also quite impressed.
“The entire theme and just everything. The visual aspect of it, the commentary, everything just flowed very nicely,” she said.
“It’s very uplifting,” added Mr. Hogue. He said it could become an annual tradition.
“Fantastic experience. It was very inspiring and definitely, I think that we’ll come back next year,” he said.
For Ms. Phy, there was another dimension to the performance—learning about the culture and heritage of her Chinese grandfather.
“It’s very, very moving,” she said.
Mr. Hogue was already looking forward to sharing Shen Yun with others.
“I know several family members that would really appreciate this type of show, and they haven’t seen anything like this before either,” he said.
“I know especially my young nieces really appreciate dance.”
“They would just be mesmerized by all that goes on and how perfectly in sync everyone is when they’re dancing. The simple props just come alive on the stage as well,” he said.
“It’s a special treat to be able to come here and have it so close by to where we live and take it all in, and be able to tell everyone about it.”
“It’s fantastic. It’s wonderful. It’s so beautiful. What a beautiful experience,” said Ms. Phy.
Reporting by Teng Dongyu and Matthew Little
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company will play three shows in Hamilton on Jan. 12-13 before going on to Toronto for five shows, completing its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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