After months of grey skies and inclement weather, the sky cleared and the sun shone for much of Shen Yun Performing Arts’ five-show run at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre Jan 10–13.
The shows drew near capacity crowds, and if audience response is any indication, Shen Yun is fast becoming one of the world’s most loved performing groups.
New York-based Shen Yun has made a yearly stop in Vancouver since the company was formed in 2006, and with its annual global tours, the show has become one of the world’s leading stage productions.
Combining dance, music by a live orchestra, humour, and education, Shen Yun’s production values have made it the most accessible way to experience traditional Chinese culture, which the ancients believed was divinely inspired.
Julia Kim, vice president and investment counsellor at RBC Phillips, Hager & North Investment Counsel and also board director of the Vancouver Opera, had high praise for the performance.
“What impressed me was the aesthetics of it,” she said. “The beauty of the performers, the costumes—everything coming together to create one big experience. There’s just nothing quite like it.”
In its efforts to revive China’s cultural heritage—which was largely destroyed due to various communist campaigns such as the Cultural Revolution—Shen Yun showcases the principles, values, and excellence that were common in ancient times in the Middle Kingdom.
Renowned Chinese baritone Song Xuewei, also known as Marco Song, detected this and was deeply touched by the performance.
What Shen Yun has presented are the core values of the human soul—truthfulness, compassion, and beauty.
— Baritone Marco Song
“What Shen Yun has presented are the core values of the human soul—truthfulness, compassion, and beauty,” he said. “Shen Yun also promotes another realm of morality, which is that people should never betray their conscience. This is what is most precious.”
Parenting expert and anti-bullying pioneer Teresa Triggiano a regular youth expert on Global News, also noted these aspects.
“Shen Yun’s message about tolerance and peace and truth was quite powerful,” she said. “We were quite touched by the message that they had to give.”
Classical Chinese Dance
The medium through which Shen Yun expresses the essence of Chinese culture is Classical Chinese dance, a 5,000-year-old art form that is undergoing a revival at the hands of Shen Yun.
Max Coppes, the president of the BC Cancer Agency, was impressed with the calibre of dancers.
“They are very well expressed, either force, or elegance, or sweetness,” he said. “I find that the synchronized movements of the dancers is incredible. I don’t think I have seen people be so in tune with each other.”
Ms. Monteiro, a dancer, instructor, and choreographer with Vancouver-based performance group Aché Brasil, said she appreciated the expressivity of classical Chinese dance.
“It really shows how the women are feminine and how the men are powerful, strong,” she said. “They really show their personality, and the music is fantastic. It’s beautiful. I think it’s very classy.”
Owner of a luxury corporate cruise line, Sherry Turchyn saw beyond the physical movements of the dancers and into the cultural significance they carried.
“There’s genuine effort that comes out when they’re performing. There’s a skill and a talent, but the feeling goes beyond that—the feeling goes beyond their talent and expression of dance. It’s a depth of appreciation of who they are and what they represent, their culture.
“They’re true to it and I feel that. It’s not my culture and yet they drew me into it and I’m very grateful.”
This is a sentiment echoed by many who have attended a Shen Yun performance, and it’s something that also resonated with architect Chris Brown.
“It carries you away,” he said. “From a design perspective it is very simple, and yet very transporting. Everything is very simple when you break it down to its finest elements, but so exhilarating when you put it together.”
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. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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