ESCONDIDO, Calif.—The Fleming family came to see Shen Yun on Dec. 30th. Mr. Fleming is retired from the Marine Corps Mrs. Mary Fleming likes ballet very much. Before she retired, she created aquatic ballet schools, combining singing and rhythm with aquatics.
Mrs. Fleming brought her two hesitant daughters along to the performance, and they ended up liking it.
Mrs. Fleming noted how dignified the dancers were in difficult acting roles. Regarding one mini-drama in the performance she said, “I also like the one where the dancers were put in prison. And the way they fell down—the way he did that was just remarkable. I mean it was just graceful and yet, it had dignity.”
Shen Yun, based in New York, has as its mission to revive the 5,000 year old, divinely inspired Chinese culture, one that was nearly lost because of persecution from the Chinese Communist Party, according to the company’s website. The performance begins with the dawn of the ancient civilization and takes the audience through different eras and dynasties; several pieces depict the current suppressive environment in China.
Mrs. Fleming said the she enjoyed everything, including the Mongolian Bowl Dance, where female dancers dressed as Mongolians balance bowls on their heads while dancing.
“A clear blue sky embraces the vast expanse of the northern grasslands,” says the Shen Yun program book. “From their tents, Mongolian women emerge balancing bowls on their heads in a dance of welcome. Traditional Mongolian dance is strong yet gentle, with flexible wrists, pliable arms, and a signature shoulder shake.”
The dance is one of multiple ethnic dances, which along with folk and classical dances make up the dance part of the performance. The dancers are adorned with handmade costumes and accompanied by digital backdrops and an orchestra that combines both classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments, such as the 4,000 year old erhu, or two-stringed Chinese violin.
Mrs. Fleming said she loved the orchestra.
“Oh, fantastic! And what I liked about it is that they combined the Chinese instruments with the Western instruments,” she said. “That was really a good thing to do, I thought. It’s really good to the ear.”
Shen Yun’s website notes, “One thing that strikes audiences everywhere as so unique about a Shen Yun performance is the orchestra that combines the best of East and West. The full, classical Western orchestra provides energy and grandeur, while the Chinese instruments bring out the distinct touch of millennia-old Chinese culture.”
Mr. Fleming said he appreciated the costumes; how very colorful and enjoyable they were.
In several pieces there is an interplay between the characters on stage and on the digital backdrops. The seamless transition astonishes many audience members.
“How do they do that?” Mrs. Fleming wondered. “That was clever. It came right out of the picture.”
With reporting by Robin Kemker.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will be heading to Escondido for performances at the California Center for the Arts from Dec. 28 to 31.
New York-based Shen Yun has three companies that tour the world each year on a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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