SAN JOSE, Calif.—Having danced with the Oakland Ballet for 11 years, Diane Wagner was enthusiastic to see classical Chinese dance from Shen Yun Performing Arts at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 5.
“I loved the opportunity to see classical Chinese dance. I thought it was spectacular!,” Ms. Wagner said.
Other than her career as ballet dancer, Ms. Wagner is an actress and the producer and host of an award-winning television show.
Ms. Wagner was enchanted by the Shen Yun performance. Notably the classical Chinese stories featured in the performance stood out for her.
“The dancers really brought a lot of comedy or humor that the Chinese people had at that time; they didn’t have television back then so it was a great form to enjoy themselves and laugh and have fun,” said Ms. Wagner.
Founded in 2006, New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has “the mission of reviving 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture,” according to the company’s website. With classical Chinese dance as its hallmark the performance takes audience members on a journey through China’s rich history.
Ms. Wagner said that she loved how the masters of ceremonies explained the different stories told in the performance.
“Another thing I liked was the visual effect of the screen in the background and how the dancers went flying and then would bounce up on stage … I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Wagner said.
Part of the Shen Yun performance is a state-of-the-art digital backdrop which creates vividly animated settings. The Shen Yun website describes the backdrops as “magical windows to completely different realms.”
Wagner said that the costumes worn by the dancers “were spectacular.” Each Shen Yun performance contains hundreds of costumes. The objective of the costumes is to give “an authentic presentation of the attire that comes from China’s divinely inspired traditional culture,” according to the Shen Yun website.
Ms. Wagner says she especially enjoyed the piece Sand Monk is Blessed. The piece is based on the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West which tells about the adventures of a monk while on a pilgrimage to obtain Buddhist scriptures.
Shen Yun performs around the world with three companies each accompanied by an orchestra. Shen Yun’s orchestra is unique as it blends the melodies of the East and West, containing both classical Western and classical Chinese instruments.
“I thought the live orchestra was really nice. I felt it was authentic, with the Chinese instruments in it,” Ms. Wagner said.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. The Shen Yun Touring Company will perform at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts through Jan. 6. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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