WELLINGTON, NZ—The gorgeous colours and costumes have become a trademark of Shen Yun Performing Arts, and they certainly caught the eye of artist and illustrator Olivia Jackson-Mee, when she saw Shen Yun perform at St James Theatre on Wednesday, April 9.
“The costumes—wow! The fabrics that were used were just incredible, with the light hitting them. It was just a visual spectacle really,” she said.
Shen Yun’s hundreds of gorgeous, hand-made garments span China’s dynasties, regions, and ethnic groups. Everything about the costumes is handmade, including the headpieces, shoes and props. The beautiful design, delicate production and colourful fabrics display the glorious culture of China, complementing the company’s mission to restore China’s 5000 years of civilisation, through music and dance.
“I thought it was absolutely flawless,” Ms. Jackson-Mee said.
“The dancing was just so perfectly in time with the music and I thought the music especially, for me, was just incredible. It was a seamless blending of Eastern and Western instruments which I found very, very interesting. What an amazing sound.”
The Shen Yun website states, “The Shen Yun Orchestra combines the spirit, beauty, and distinctiveness of Chinese music with the precision, power, and grandeur of the Western symphony orchestra. The result—two great traditions producing one refreshing sound.”
Ms. Jackson-Mee also plays the piano and really appreciated the blended orchestra and the synchronicity with the dancers.
The Shen Yun Orchestra’s power and skill were noted, she said, “I think that they were very very skilful to get their music in time with the dancing like that.
“I felt that it [the music] was perfectly in sync with the dancing so every time a dancer would land an instrument would kind of strike its note and as the music descended so would the dancing and as it kind of quietened down so would the dancing.
“If it was all silent the dancing wouldn’t have any emotional kind of impact, but the music for me made it. It took me on a journey, made me kind of connect more with the dancing and understand it more, understand the story line and the plot and the characters.”
Ms. Jackson-Mee explained, “I’ve said to blend the East and the West in terms of the instrument use, the gongs and then the traditional instruments—the violins, the violas, the cellos. It was very cool.”
She added, “the singers were really spectacular.”
Speaking of soprano soloist Min Jiang who sang bel canto style was encouraged to sing an encore.
“What a powerful voice, I mean, wow her voice just really like echoed throughout the space … that note she held near the end was just so strong and powerful and it lasted like, an unnatural amount of time, yeah it was really cool.”
Shen Yun’s use of digital backdrops, rather than more traditional painted backdrops, was another surprise for Ms Jackson-Mee.
“I’ve never seen that done before, I’ve never seen the kind of use of a digital backdrop before … especially that interaction between dancer and visual backdrop—very unique.”
A powerful message came through for Ms Jackson-Mee in some of the dance pieces.
“Definitely a message that came through about the Falun Dafa practice and how much they’ve been persecuted in China and how unaware we are of that, I think, in the West,” she said. “It’s a tragedy that they’re being suppressed in their home country.”
“I think it’s important to go and see things that are different and slightly challenging. I think it’s really a very, very enlightening thing to do, to not just stick to conventional ballet and to see different forms of dance and to hear different forms of music and to be open to all that.”
Ms Jackson-Mee illustrates children’s books and runs her own business, OJM Creative, in Wellington.
Reporting by NTD Television, Margo McVicar, Rebecca Hunnisett and Leigh Smith
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.