MONTREAL, Canada—Joann Pham was lucky enough to be visiting Montreal from the U.S. when Shen Yun Performing Arts came to town, so she took in the show at Place des Arts on April 30.
“The show is amazing. It’s wonderful,” said Ms. Pham, an optometrist.
“The dancing is beautiful, and all the history and the culture I did not know—it was very impressive.”
Ms. Pham was accompanied by her boyfriend Michel Parise, who works in real estate.
“I do enjoy this show a lot. For me it’s the first time. I don’t know a lot about this culture but I do appreciate it a lot. The costumes are very nice, and the dance also. My favourite one was the monkey,” he said, referring to the story-dance “Monkey King and the Dragon Palace.”
“My favourite was the drum dance, the Mongolian drum dance. It was very, very cool,” said Ms. Pham. “I like drums, I like percussion, and the male dance is very cool.”
Shen Yun’s mission is to bring about a renaissance of traditional Chinese culture, the essence and inherent spirituality of which were all but destroyed after the emergence of communism in China.
“I think the spirituality is beautiful. I think the spirituality is great. We lose a lot of that today so the message behind it is beautiful,” said Ms. Pham.
“Peace, compassion, tolerance—I think it’s great. Unfortunately we lose that [in today’s world] so it’s nice to see it.”
The spiritual aspect of the performance and the revival of the culture also resonated with Mr. Parise.
“Well for me, where we come from it will always be important. You can’t deny where you come from and I think the past will leave you your future. You don’t want to lose that. It’s beautiful. It’s history and it tells you who you are.”
Shen Yun Orchestra
Shen Yun is renowned for many things—its classical Chinese dance, vocal and instrumental soloists, digitally animated backdrops, striking costumes, and live orchestra. Being a piano student who is studying for his doctorate in piano performance at the University of Montreal, Guillermo Coronel listened to the orchestra with a keen ear.
“It is very interesting because the rhythm is different, and so for example the interpretation is more soft, the orchestra uses more short chords. It is very expressive, romantic,” he said.
The Shen Yun Orchestra is unique in that it combines traditional Chinese instruments such as the pipa, erhu, and gong with a Western classical orchestra. The Western instruments play the foundation while the Chinese instruments lead the melodies.
“The combination is very different. For me this is new because the rhythm is different and the tonality, too, is very different to classical music,” Mr Coronel said. “The gong is very nice, it adds a special touch to the music.”
He was also impressed by the vocal soloists. The primary trait that distinguishes Shen Yun’s singers is their use of the bel canto operatic technique to sing Chinese text (the lyrics are translated into English on the backdrop). According to the group’s website, bel canto is completely different from alto or baritone singing styles.
“The singers … the language in the music is very different. I was reading the lyrics and I was listening to the singer and it was very nice,” said Mr. Coronel.
The orchestra also struck a chord with Montreal businessman Anthony Bisanti.
“I liked the orchestra a lot, it was a super performance. I have a daughter who plays the
saxophone, so this is something she would have liked to see. So next year I will have to bring her with me,” he said.
New York-based Shen Yun excels at taking stories and legends from China’s 5,000-year history and presenting it to audiences through music and dance—both ethnic and folk dances as well as classical Chinese dance, one of the richest and most thinks breath of art forms in the world.
Mr. Bisanti enjoyed the show so much he is now an avid fan.
“I really liked the feeling of the stories, the significance of the dancers, I really appreciated it,” he said. “I am very happy, and I think I will try to come back to next year’s show and those in the future.”
Reporting by Donna He and Joan Delaney
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company is currently touring Eastern Canada. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.