OTTAWA, Canada—Shen Yun Performing Arts brought its colourful presentation of classical Chinese dance and music to the National Arts Centre Saturday afternoon, making a mark on the diverse audience in attendance.
Memories of Communism
Mr. Lee, who preferred his entire name to not be published because of his political history, fled communist Vietnam 35 years ago.
He praised Shen Yun for its colour, movement, and music.
“Excellent. I’m really impressed,” he said.
He said he was especially impressed by the costumes.
“They are so colourful and represent many ethnicities in China. Different dances, very original, that’s something we don’t see very often here.”
Mr. Lee said the show conveys the traditional Chinese values while reflecting the realities on the ground in China today.
“It’s really touching for me because other than the culture and traditions of China in this show, it also sends a message about persecution that’s happening in China right now.”
Mr. Lee said he was deeply moved by the two dances touching on the contemporary issue of the persecution of Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) in China today.
While Shen Yun’s 22 short dance and musical pieces cover a wide range of material, from the legends of the culture’s creation over 5,000 years ago through several dynasties and stories from beloved literary tales, it was those two dances that particularly struck a chord with Mr. Lee.
“Myself and my family were victims of those persecutions 35 years ago. So that reminds me of a lot of memories.”
Businessman Dylan Jones, owner of Stonetree Landscaping, said the show was very interesting.
He said he especially enjoyed the dance When Shaolin Monks Protected The Emperor, which tells the legend behind why Shaolin monks can eat meat.
“The dancing is very nice,” he said.
He also said he appreciated Shen Yun’s colourful costumes and live orchestra.
Shen Yun’s costume artists collect designs of traditional attire, ranging from the royal robes of emperors to the everyday garments of the common people. They then use bright colours to recreate hundreds of new pieces for each year’s all-new production.
His mother, Linda Sheppard, said she was moved by the dance Ancient Elegance.
“The silk scarves, the long sleeves, I love that,” she said of the costumes worn by the graceful dancers.
Dairy farmer Thom Mueller repeatedly described Shen Yun as inspirational during an interview at intermission.
“The colours were always dynamic,” Mr. Mueller said. He also remarked about the female singing. “It was very touching and when your hair starts to tingle, it was very good.”
Huang Pi-ju was the first soprano to take to the stage. Two more vocal soloists followed in the second half.
Mr. Mueller said he also appreciated the synchronicity of the dancers
“They’re so coordinated and unique, it’s almost like there’s 15, 20 dancers out there but they’re all like one.”
He said he particularly enjoyed the dance An Early Spring.
“It was very inspirational,” he said.
He was taken with Shen Yun’s vividly animated digital backdrops as well, which the company’s website says extends the stage and transports the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one.
“The backdrop was just unbelievable, beautiful,” Mr. Mueller said.
Many of the dances brought out something unique, and the spiritual element in many of them touched him deeply, he said.
“Each segment brought different thoughts. We had just lost my mother-in-law this summer, and a lot of the things from heaven just sort of brought tears to the eyes. It was very interesting to learn a little bit more about the Chinese culture and the different aspects of what’s important.”
He said he would go home and reflect on the show, probably taking some time to discuss it with his family.
“Inspirational, peaceful, a time to reflect on life,” he said in summary.
Insight into Culture
Spanish teacher, translator, and immigration interpreter Patricia Lazarte described the show as fabulous.
“The costumes were really impressive and the dancers looked like feathers—they looked so light in their movements. Everything was incredibly well done.”
“I was able to get a complete idea of what Chinese culture is all about,” she said.
Reporting by Susan Chen, Pam McLennan, Donna He, Matthew Little, and NTD Television.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company will be in Ottawa until Dec. 30 before going on to Montreal, Toronto, and other cities in eastern Canada.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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