VANCOUVER—Singer Italia Santacroce saw Shen Yun Performing Arts at Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday afternoon as a Christmas present from her son, and it brought back memories of when she used to travel with her late husband.
“I like to see something different,” Ms. Santacroce said, noting that she and her husband had been “all over,” including to China.
She very much liked the advertisement promoting the acclaimed classical Chinese dance and music production, and her daughter suggested to her son that if he bought tickets for their mother for Christmas, “she’ll be happy.”
“So I was very, very happy to come,” Ms. Santacroce said. “It’s very special.”
New York-based Shen Yun was founded in 2006 by a group of overseas Chinese artists who wished to revive the true, divinely inspired traditional culture of China, which has all but been completely demolished following more than six decades of communist rule, according to the company’s website.
“Beautiful, I really love it. Very, very nice,” said Ms. Santacroce of the show, performed by one of three Shen Yun touring groups that travels the globe every year presenting an all-new lineup of classical Chinese dance, Chinese ethnic and folk dance, and original songs and musical scores.
The vocal soloists use the bel canto operatic technique to sing Chinese lyrics, and the lyrics are displayed on the backdrop behind the performers in Chinese and English, rich with powerful and profound reflections about human life and its meaning.
True to the mission of Shen Yun, the songs and dances convey the spiritual essence of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honour, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the divine.
Ms. Santacroce was touched by all the singers, in particular tenor Tian Ge, who sang a song that spoke to the wish of all human beings to return to Heaven.
“That’s beautiful, teaching we’re not just trapped here … because we believe in another life,” she said. “We all try to do the best here, but it’s good to love one another.”
With her was a younger member of her family, singer and guitarist Olivia Santacroce, who enjoyed the show just as much, including the “very beautiful, very emotional” songs.
“I think the music went really well with the dancing—it all flowed well together. They were very on time, very together,” said the younger Ms. Santacroce. “They are all very musically gifted performers.”
In addition, “the orchestra was amazing. There were very interesting instruments that were unique to this orchestra and they really lent to the musical in general,” she said.
The Shen Yun orchestra seamlessly blends the sounds of East and West, featuring a Western philharmonic orchestra that plays the foundation while traditional Chinese instruments lead the melodies.
Olivia said she learned a lot about Chinese culture from Shen Yun, and especially liked Sewing the Flowers of Heaven, a dance in which celestial maidens gathered together to sew a gossamer silk cloth, which when unfurled scattered flowers of blessing for all of humankind.
“The visual presentation was amazing,” she said.
Reporting by Chen Si and Cindy Chan.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three 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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