If audience reaction is anything to go by, Shen Yun Performing Arts’ recent shows in Ottawa and Montréal were a resounding success.
The acclaimed classical Chinese dance company wowed theatergoers with its depiction of traditional Chinese culture, replete with tales, legends, and heroes from the Middle Kingdom’s rich 5,000-year history.
“Brilliant” was how Lloyd Stanford describe the opening show at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Jan. 2. Mr. Stanford is an accomplished community leader, civil servant, author, and professor whose wide interests include Chinese culture.
“The choreography is really excellent. Whether or not one knows Chinese dance, you can see that the skill of the dancers is extraordinarily high,” he said.
“It creates the impression that it’s simple and sort of a natural thing, but technically it must be very very difficult, a lot of hard work, to get to that level.”
Renowned physicists Victor Apollonov and Paul Corkum celebrated 35 years of friendship between their two families with an evening at the show.
“It definitely reflects very deep roots of Chinese culture,” Dr. Apollonov said. “And it’s a way of discovering the rich Chinese culture definitely. So it’s a great, great event in the cultural life of Canada.”
Dr. Corkum said he was impressed by Shen Yun’s digital backdrops, which are at times animated in order to enhance the story being acted out on stage. He described the actions on the backdrops as “movies.”
“It brought movies into the dance, and it integrated one into the other in a way I’ve never seen before,” he said.
It was the second time that TV actress and model Nadja David saw Shen Yun, and she was once again fascinated by the performance.
“Every time the curtain opens it’s just beautiful, it takes my breath away,” she said. “The dancers are incredible, so talented, so agile, very strong. … I like to sometimes watch one individual dancer, but also the magic that happens with everybody together. It’s just amazing.”
Jim Mehaffey, a leading scientist and professor in the field of fire safety, said the show made him “smile inside.”
“It’s spectacular,” he said. “Every scene is beautiful, every scene is moving.”
‘Excitement and tranquility combined’
In Montréal, where Shen Yun played four shows, theatergoers were equally enthused.
Over the past seven years, author and culture champion Jeannette Moscovitch has purchased dozens of tickets for friends and family to see Shen Yun with her.
“Every time I see something new,” she said after the opening show at Place des Arts on Monday night.
“I had a feeling right through that the [performers] work from their heart.”
For Gilles Deguire, Mayor of Montreal North, it was his second time seeing Shen Yun and he called it a rare and precious opportunity.
“It’s something that you see few times in your life, a show of that kind of perfection,” he said. “I really enjoyed the evening.”
Cardiologist Jacques Gagnon, who attended with his wife and 6-year-old twin daughters, said the story-based dances in Shen Yun provide deep insight into traditional Chinese philosophy and spirituality
“It actually immerses us in a spirituality that is different,” he said. “A mythology that we are not used to.”
Monique Parent, a teacher who is now pursuing a BA in physics, said the show left her with a feeling of striving to “always go higher, always try to become bigger, better.”
She was also struck by the variety of colours and costumes in the show. Shen Yun’s costumes are originally designed and handmade, and run the gamut from those of emperors, ministers, and generals to the everyday clothing of the common people.
“What stood out for me was the costumes, how they were long and they flowed in all kinds of ways. It added a lot of grace to the dance. The colours are very bright and striking, and very strong,” she said.
Well-known historian and author Hugh 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.”
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will perform in Montreal until Jan. 9 before going on to Hamilton. 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.