The Shen Yun Performing Arts show at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Jan. 3 held a few surprises for well-known military historian and author Hugh Halliday.
Mr. Halliday said the music of the Shen Yun Orchestra, with its unique blend of Chinese and Western instruments, surprised him, as did the athleticism of the dancers.
“I was particularly impressed with the acrobatic nature of the show,” he said.“There’s a great deal of lively action to this, I must say.”
Shen Yun features the ancient art form of classical Chinese dance, which includes difficult flipping, spinning, and tumbling techniques similar to acrobatics. In fact, acrobatics and gymnastics originated from classical Chinese dance.
Alongside story-based dances featuring classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun showcases folk and ethnic dances, presenting China’s rich diversity and long-cherished legends—all to the music of a live orchestra.
Mr. Halliday said the show gave him “a sense of excitement” and a feeling of tranquility at the same time.
“There is excitement, there is contentment … There is this tension between the excitement of the high-paced [dancing] and the tranquility. Yes, it’s excitement and tranquility combined.”
Mr. Halliday has served in the offices of the RCAF’s Air Historian and the Canadian Forces Directorate of History, taught at Niagara College, and worked in various capacities at the Canadian War Museum. He is author of several books and has also been published in numerous scholarly journals.
Shen Yun’s famed animated backdrops, which sometimes interact with the dancers on stage and help give context to the story-based dances, also impressed Mr. Halliday.
“The technical side of this, in fact, where a character comes down as an animated character and then reappears on the stage live or disappears into heaven the same way is a most effective form of coordination,” he said.
As well as portraying legends and heroes from China’s 5,000-year-history, Shen Yun presents a few pieces depicting the peaceful resistance of practitioners of Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, whose adherents have been subjected to a campaign of persecution by the communist regime since 1999.
In one such piece, The Steadfast Lotus, a young girl is left alone after her mother is taken away by the authorities. After going through tribulation searching for her mother, the daughter’s steadfast faith gives her newfound hope.
“It’s gracefully told,” said Mr. Halliday.
Reporting by Donna He and Joan Delaney
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.