As the audience murmured around Sony Centre for the Performing Arts during intermission, Michel Beaulieu crouched beside his son, Nathaniel, who was busily trying to finish an ice cream cone in the 15 minutes before the show resumed.
Mr. Beaulieu is the CFO and VP of operations at BHS Consultants, an IT consultancy working with big-name companies like NBC Universal, Dish Network, and American Express.
He had brought Nathaniel to the Shen Yun Performing Arts production that evening expecting that his young son would have had his fill of live dance and music by this point, but he was wrong.
“I was fully prepared to leave at intermission. And I asked him and he said, ‘No, I want to stay.’”
Mr. Beaulieu said Shen Yun had turned out to be more than he expected, both for himself and his son, who was full of praise for the performance.
“I liked everything. Very talented people. It must have taken a very long time to get this all right,” said Nathaniel.
The musicians were also doing a “very nice” job, he said.
Shen Yun stages performances of mainly classical Chinese dance, an art form thousands of years old, passed down and enriched in imperial courts and opera houses dynasty after dynasty.
There are three main components to classical Chinese dance: the bearing or inner spirit, the external form which includes hundreds of movements and postures, and the technical skill, which refers to jumps, leaps, flips, and turns.
Those technical skills are the origin of what people today know as gymnastics or acrobatics, and Mr. Beaulieu noted the difficulty they presented.
“I’m impressed by the athleticism that’s shown by all this,” he said.
Mr. Beaulieu was also surprised by Shen Yun’s digitally projected backdrop. At first he wasn’t sure if he had just been away from the theatre so long that he’d missed a major development, or if it was something very new. It is in fact one of Shen Yun’s signature innovations.
“I loved it. I really appreciated the fact that they took such an ancient art form and combined it with this new technology.”
“I think it makes [Shen Yun] a lot more approachable for a younger audience. So I love it.”
Shen Yun’s website describes the vivid animations on that backdrop as “magical windows to completely different realms. From vast open grasslands in one dance to the stately elegance of Tang Dynasty pavilions in another.”
That backdrop plays a prominent role in the dance Ne Zha Churns the Sea.
The dance tells the tale of how the mythical demi-god Ne Zha is born as a giant meatball to a local lord and lady. He quickly grows into a young boy who then battles an evil Dragon King terrorizing an idyllic seaside village. It was a standout performance, by Nathaniel’s account.
“Very, very good. My favourite, quite interesting.”
He still had quite a bit of that ice cream cone left when the chimes were calling audiences back in for the rest of the show, but it was a problem he could deal with.
Reporting by Matthew Little
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 until Jan. 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.