ATLANTA—Birda Ringstad took a break from dancing on the evening of Dec. 28 to attend Shen Yun Performance Arts at the Cobb Energy Centre in Atlanta.
“The dancing is phenomenal, the costumes are phenomenal, it’s beautiful,” she said. “I loved to see all the leaps, so gorgeous.”
Ringstad is a choreographer and dancer who specializes in tap and ballroom. She is currently a dance teacher and choreographer at her own dance company, Birda Ringstad.
She began dancing at age 8 at the Art Linkletter Dance Studio in Chicago, and has studied with time-honored tap dancers such as Brenda Buffalino, Pat Rico, Al Gilbert, Gregory Hines, and Tommy Sutton.
Ringstad said it was her first exposure to such a grand scale of classical Chinese dance.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2006 by overseas Chinese artists who aspired to revive an interest in traditional Chinese dance. Ever since the Chinese Cultural Revolution began in 1966, authentic classical Chinese dance had been on the verge of extinction.
Shen Yun features folk and ethnic dance to celebrate China’s array of ethnic groups, as well as story-based dances that tell Chinese myths and history.
Many of the dances are supplemented by cultural props such as magical whisks for Daoists on their spiritual journey, long silk ribbons for heavenly maidens, and even chopsticks for Mongolians dancing on great plains.
“I certainly think this last piece [the chopstick dance] was pretty phenomenal,” she said. “I loved the percussive nature to it, and I just think watching men leap is one of the best things you can watch, ever.”
Ringstad said she was also impressed with Shen Yun’s integration of high-tech backdrops, which uses state-of-the-art graphics technology to carry the audience to places such as Mongolian grasslands and sacred holy temples.
“It just seemed to transition seamlessly,” she said. “It’s a very interesting idea, I’ve never seen it before personally.”
Additionally, Shen Yun costumes celebrate Chinese culture from across the board, from Han clothing to the ethnic attire of the Manchurian, Tibetan, Dai, Mongol, and Uyghur ethnic groups.
“The costuming is just gorgeous,” Ringstad said.
“The live orchestra in itself is hard to beat,” said Denny Mooradian, a lighting director who saw the show with Ringstad.
Each dance is accompanied by a live orchestra, which features traditional Chinese instruments such as the erhu, or the two-stringed violin, and the pipa, or Chinese lute.
Mooradian said he particularly liked the educational value of the show.
“The presentation seems to cover many different provinces of China, not just the capital, Beijing, but all different provinces with all the different cultures of dress, style, music and dance,” he said.
“Beautiful, it’s beautiful,” Ringstad said.
With reporting by Huiwen and Amelia Pang
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.