TORONTO—TV producer Michelle Wasyluk came away from Shen Yun Performing Arts’ Saturday matinee at Sony Centre highly impressed by the production excellence of the acclaimed classical Chinese dance company.
“I think the production was fantastic,” said Ms. Wasyluk, a promotions producer at The Shopping Channel who has been in the television industry for some 25 years.
“When you have a show of this magnitude, and you have all of these dancers, and so many different choreographed scenes, that’s no small undertaking. But to be able to produce something that’s so vibrantly beautiful and colourful and entertaining is very impressive,” Ms. Wasyluk said.
New York-based Shen Yun was founded by a group of classical Chinese artists who made it their mission to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China. The company draws on top talent from around the world, including many winners of international competitions in dance, choreography, music, and singing.
Through a collection of dance, song, and music performances, Shen Yun presents themes of compassion and courage that take inspiration from China’s 5,000 years of traditional culture from ancient legends to modern-day epics.
“I think it’s great, and especially if you are not all that familiar with Chinese culture, it’s a beautiful way to experience it and learn about the history and be entertained at the same time,” Ms. Wasyluk said.
One of the often-praised features of Shen Yun is its breathtaking backdrops—state-of-the-art digital projections that are animated to complement and synchronize all aspects of each performance, from the characters, costumes, and colours to the dance movements, storyline, even the lighting and particular notes of the orchestra.
“It was a good way to incorporate portions of the story … on stage,” Ms. Wasyluk said.
She especially enjoyed the scenes in which figures descended from the screen onto the stage to appear as their performer counterparts, and other scenes where dancers from the stage seemingly entered the screen to appear as characters ascending to heaven.
To be able to produce something that’s so vibrantly beautiful and colourful and entertaining is very impressive.
—TV Producer Michelle Wasyluk
“It was really great the way they had the visuals sort of disappear at the bottom, and then dancers would come up at the top. I thought it flowed really nicely and it had a really nice touch. I liked that.”
Ms. Wasyluk complimented the seamless interaction among the backdrops, dancing, orchestra, and other elements of the production.
“It’s one of those things where it blends so beautifully and perfectly that you don’t even realize that there are so many different elements,” she said.
“And I think there’s a lot to be said for the whole production itself—the amount of work that would have gone into it, and how it’s not just what’s happening on the stage but what’s happening behind on the screen and on the sides of the stage and down below with the music. It just brings together a really beautiful package.”
The lighting was also impressive, noted Ms. Wasyluk.
“When you have a stage of that size, you want everyone to see everything that’s going on, yet you don’t want to be overpowering. With lighting, certain times you need to be subtle and certain times you need to draw attention to certain areas of the stage, and I think they did that very well,” she said.
“I thought with the costumes it was lit absolutely beautifully.”
Ms. Wasyluk found it an enjoyable showcase of traditional Chinese culture all around.
“I thought it was a beautiful display of Chinese tradition, and the dancing. It was something I’ve never seen before and I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience it.”
Reporting by Becky Zhou and Cindy Chan
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Following 21 successful shows Dec. 20-Jan. 13 in Mississauga, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Hamilton, Shen Yun’s New York Company is in Toronto for five shows Jan. 17-20, completing its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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