OTTAWA, Canada—“I’ve been wanting to see this for years,” said writer James LaHaise of the Shen Yun show he attended at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Saturday afternoon.
And after finally seeing it he wasn’t disappointed.
“I loved the show, I absolutely loved it,” he said. “I just loved the grace and the music and the dancing. It was very well done.”
New York-based Shen Yun features an orchestra renowned for its unique combination of Eastern and Western instruments. A Western philharmonic orchestra plays the foundation, while traditional Chinese instruments, such as the pipa and erhu, lead the melodies.
“It was beautiful music. I loved the blending of the Western instruments and the Eastern instruments. They work very well together,” said Mr. LaHaise.
“With Eastern instruments they use a different key; it’s not something that we’re accustomed to. In that way it’s a lot more enlightening. It opens your eyes and helps you to hear music in a new way.”
Mr. LaHaise is vice president of Fool’s Moon Entertainment Inc., for which he writes role-playing games. He is author of “Fox Magic,” a role-playing game based on Japanese mythic culture and the Shinto religion.
He also praised the choreography in Shen Yun, whose centrepiece is classical Chinese dance, an art form developed over 5,000 years of Chinese history and one of the most complex and complete in the world.
“I think it was very well done. They worked very well together and you could get a lot of the emotion out of the movements. It was almost like acting combined with dance and it worked very well.”
He said he was inspired by Shen Yun’s digitally animated backdrops, which interact with the story-based dances.
“I really liked that. When I first saw it, it looked like the actors coming in off the screen and coming up—that caught me off guard. It was very inspiring and I very much enjoyed it. It was quite different.”
Since 2006, Shen Yun has wowed audiences in over 100 cities around the world as it fulfills its mission to revive China’s traditional culture and art forms, which have been persecuted and co-opted by the Chinese Communist regime and replaced with propaganda-art that is designed to legitimize the Communist Party.
Mr. LaHaise said he’s been interested in ancient Chinese culture, and he learned more about it from the show.
“There’s a lot of depth and variety in it,” he said. “It’s not one big culture—it’s made out of different parts and each part should be given respect and learned about individually to see how it adds to the whole.”
He said he feels Shen Yun can enrich other cultures.
“I think it contributes a lot, I firmly believe that. If you look at other cultures, it helps expand your mind. It allows you to see other things and get other ideas, and you bring those ideas into your culture and so your culture grows as well,” he said.
“I think everyone should see it at least once because it brings a lot to western culture and there’s a lot that we can learn from it.”
Reporting by SOH Radio Network and Joan Delaney.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company will be in Ottawa until Dec. 30 before going on to Montreal, Toronto, and other cities in eastern Canada.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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