VANCOUVER—Julia Kim had heard a lot of good things about Shen Yun Performing Arts, so she came to see the Jan. 13 show at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre with “great hope for wonderful entertainment.” And she wasn’t disappointed.
“I have to say there are just so many different components to this. It’s like being transported to a totally different world that combined the physical beauty of the dancing, the music, and the whole spirituality of what the Chinese culture stands for,” she said after the show.
Ms. Kim is vice president and investment counselor at RBC Phillips, Hager & North Investment Counsel. She is also board director of the Vancouver Opera, and has served on the boards of several other organizations, including the Minerva Foundation for BC Women.
She was so pleased with Shen Yun that she wants everyone to see it.
“I have to say I think everybody should come and see this in order to understand a little bit more, to gain a little deeper understanding of the depth and the different layers of Chinese culture.”
New York-based Shen Yun was founded in 2006 with the mission to revive the essence of China’s traditional culture and arts, which have been greatly diminished over the years due to various destructive campaigns by the ruling communist regime.
The performance celebrates the excellence and grandeur of classical Chinese dance and music inspired by stories, myths, and legends from China’s long and rich history.
“What impressed me was the aesthetics of it, the beauty of the performers, the costumes—everything coming together to create one big experience. There’s just nothing quite like it, I don’t think,” said Ms. Kim.
She said the Shen Yun Orchestra, with its mix of Chinese and Western instruments, “added incredibly” to the overall experience.
“It’s just a perfect idea to bring in the Western music as well as combining it with the Chinese traditional musical instruments to create a sound that is totally unique, and it’s the perfect background for the performance.”
She also enjoyed the solo singers. Shen Yun includes vocal soloists, who, according to the website, use the bel canto vocal technique while singing Chinese lyrics, which is not easily accomplished and is “unparalleled” in the music world today.
“I think we’re used to seeing the Western tenors and sopranos performing, and to see the beautiful voice of the Chinese singers—it just crosses the boundaries,” said Ms. Kim, who comes from a South Korean background.
“You don’t really think about whether they are singing in Chinese or English, you are just transported by the power of their voice. And it was nice to have the words in the background too so we could appreciate the meaning of what they’re singing about. It was beautiful all around.”
The hallmark of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, an ancient art form that has not only the fundamentals of dance but also involves movements and gestures that are specifically Chinese, as well as challenging flips, leaps, and tumbling techniques.
“The beauty of the movements was quite amazing—quite transporting actually,” said Ms. Kim.
Through story-based classical Chinese and ethnic or folk dance inspired by the Middle Kingdom’s historic myths, legends, and stories, Shen Yun aims to express the very essence, or the soul, of traditional Chinese culture—something that resonated with Ms. Kim.
“Whether it’s Chinese or Korean or Japanese, to understand how our culture was formed, that it really flowed from the great land which is China, and the beauty of that culture, which I think has been lying buried for the last few decades—I think it’s time that the rest of the world rediscovered it.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Joan Delaney
Shen Yun’s Touring Company travels to the U.S. after having completed five shows in Vancouver Jan. 10-13, while the New York Company will complete its tour of eastern Canada with five shows in Toronto Jan. 17–20.
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