KITCHENER-WATERLOO, Canada—Retired director and theatre veteran Preston Sisk said although he has been involved in the industry for over 60 years, Shen Yun Performing Arts was a new experience unlike anything he had ever seen.
Mr. Sisk attended the Jan. 11 performance at the Centre in the Square theatre with his wife Mary Jane, and said Shen Yun’s digitally animated backdrops were fresh and innovative.
“The theatrical device of using the projections and having the people come alive [on screen] was wonderful,” he said. “I’ve never seen that done before—and I’ve been involved with theatre all my life.”
Mr. Sisk has been involved in the theatre since childhood, working as a stage actor and director among many other theatre-related roles, primarily in the U.S.
He said that he didn’t know what to expect when he got tickets for the show, but was blown away by the professionalism and energy of the performance.
“It’s an amazing, joyful experience,” he said. “The choreography was strong—everybody was well-rehearsed and very professional.”
Formed by overseas Chinese artists in 2006, New York-based Shen Yun is a classical Chinese dance and music company that aims to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through the performing arts.
Featuring a collection of story-based dance dramas set against dynamic digital backdrops and accompanied by a full orchestra and moving vocal performances, Shen Yun showcases the epitome of traditional Chinese art forms.
“You saw different areas of China in the dance,” said Mr. Sisk. “I really enjoyed it very much. It was very joyful.”
He also appreciated soprano Geng Haolan, who sang an original composition entitled The Purpose of Life. According to the Shen Yun website, vocalists sing bel canto operatic style in Chinese lyrics—an incredibly difficult feat to master.
“The soprano was magnificent—she was so good—What a voice she had!” said Mr. Sisk, adding he also adored Shen Yun’s orchestra, which features traditional Chinese instruments.
“The music was phenomenal,” he said. “A lot of times, when you go to a dance performance, you don’t think about the orchestra, but that’s really the heart of it.”
Mrs. Sisk agreed that Shen Yun was “very well done” and agreed that Shen Yun’s all-original compositions were extraordinary. She was also particularly enamoured with the hundreds of colourful hand-made costumes featured in the show.
“The costumes were wonderful,” she said. “Together with the dancing, the movement and the costumes just made your eyes happy to watch it.”
Reporting by Christina Gao and Justina Wheale
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. With its two shows in Kitchener-Waterloo now finished, Shen Yun’s New York Company will go on to Hamilton (Jan. 12-13) for three shows and finish its tour of eastern Canada in Toronto (Jan. 17-20) with five shows at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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