MISSISSAUGA, Canada—Liana Tomowich has been singing for nearly 30 years. She’s done it in night clubs, on tour in Ontario and the U.S. and continues to this day when she gets a chance.
It’s a passion that comes from within, a feeling she saw reflected in the performers of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga on Sunday.
“I’m still emotional. It was absolutely stunning, really. That’s the talent,” she said.
“There was a spirit about the whole performance.”
Shen Yun was founded on a mission to revive 5,000 year of true traditional Chinese culture and its performances are steeped in this heritage. Its dancers not only master the techniques of their craft, but also strive to convey the inner spirit of each piece.
“It really touched my heart … it’s not just something from talent and intelligence,” said Ms. Tomowich, who also works as a holistic practitioner and certified reflexologist.
Shen Yun stages classical Chinese dance as well as ethnic and folk dances. A live orchestra accompanies the performers except for the musical soloists—three singers and erhu virtuoso Mei Xuan, all of whom are accompanied by a pianist.
As a singer, Ms. Tomowich had some ability to gauge the quality of the three vocal soloists who performed that night.
“We didn’t realize there was no microphone. That alone—just the resonance of the voice, of the power. Singing like that you have to sing from your soul, from your heart. It isn’t just from the neck up. It has to come from inside. And they just brought that right out.”
But like all aspects of the performance, Ms. Tomowich said the singing had a deeper quality to it—Chinese divinely inspired traditional culture.
She said they sang “beautiful spiritual songs that we can take with us.”
“I would have loved just listening to the voices, but here there was such a beautiful message that was being brought to us … what humankind is really about, what we were really meant to be, the tolerance, the compassion, the truth.”
“The message was throughout; it was very very heartfelt.”
“You could have just sung a love song, it could have been a song about anything, but this was something so spiritual, coupled with such wonderful talent. I was so touched, amazed.”
‘I’ll be here every year’
She said Shen Yun surprised her with a performance far beyond her expectations, especially in the depth of heart that saturated the program.
“I didn’t expect this at all. [It’s] my first time coming to Shen Yun, and I’ll be here every year. If they come here every year, I’ll be here every year. That I promise.”
Shen Yun’s mission to revive Chinese culture arises from the stark contrast that the China of today poses next to the China before the communist revolution. For over 60 years, most notably the decade-long Cultural Revolution, China’s traditional culture has been extinguished in its homeland, to the point where it is on the brink of extinction.
That grim reality gave Ms. Tomowich pause.
“I didn’t know that it was so repressed in China. We had no idea, my daughter and I, had no idea. And it just broke my heart. But the talent, the passion, the music, the colour—it was stunning, just stunning.”
She said the spiritual aspect of Chinese culture represents the true nature of human beings, something sorely missing from modern society.
“That is truth. That is really what we are. Not the cars, not the nine-to-five job, not the business and, you know, the watch. You have to keep up with the Joneses, you have to keep pace, you’ve got to rush rush—that’s not what it is at all,” she said.
“What we saw in there, the music, the talent, the passion—that’s what we are, that’s what we all are. We all have that ability. We all have the ability in one way shape or form, we all have something, the special gift to give, the main one being compassion, love, tolerance. We have that. We were born with that.
“But we lose it somewhere along the way, and these performances, the words to these songs, they remind us: slow down, this is really what it’s all about. This is who we really really are. And it helps you, these performances help us to reconnect with that. That’s what I found. I did not expect to be moved like this, I really didn’t. It just helps you to reconnect, it brought me back inside myself and see the tears of joy. And there’s no other way to explain it but through tears.”
“I will be taking this with me, till next year when I come again.”
Reporting by NTD Television
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 Toronto from Jan. 23-26. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.