SYDNEY—“It’s the passion that separates the ordinary from the special,” said concert clarinettist, Debora DeGraffe, when she saw Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Sydney Theatre on April 16.
This is the fourth time Ms. DeGraffe has seen Shen Yun. The New York-based company showcases classical Chinese dance, and is bringing back to life 5,000 years of China’s traditional culture.
“I always love coming to Shen Yun, the performance is beautiful. I love the joy of the performance, and I love the energy that they bring.”
Ms. DeGraffe is a concert clarinettist, ABC recording artist, author, teacher, and lecturer at the Conservatory of Music and Sydney University, and has just submitted her PhD in Music Psychology. She has recorded a number of CDs and is regularly broadcast on ABC radio. In 1983, she was the national winner of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Instrumental and Vocal Competition. She was also the administrator, director, and founder of K.V. Inc. Ku-ring-gai Virtuosi, as well as a performer.
There were many aspects of the show that Ms. DeGraff enjoyed. “The choreography is beautiful. I love the ancient dances,” she said. “I love the way that the women are so beautiful and graceful and smooth and peaceful, and the gestures with the scarves and the fans.”
“But I love the roundedness of the men, the drums and the chopsticks, and the energy, right down through the Earth. It’s fantastic. And the women worked to be fluid and light, and the men worked to be rounded and strong—it’s very contrasting, very beautiful.”
Ms. DeGraffe said music is her job and passion, and she can tell whether a performer has true passion, adding that she could feel the energy from every Shen Yun performer.
“It’s from everyone, from the stage. It’s very much from the stage. You can see it in the faces of the dancers, in their gestures, you can see it’s from the heart,” she said.
“For any great performer—the singers, the dancers, the music—you can tell when it’s a copycat, or when it’s from the heart.”
Shen Yun is from the heart and this is what she inspires her students to achieve, she said.
“Your imagination has to be involved, but also you have to be very honest. If you play without honesty, it’s meaningless; it’s just words, it’s just sounds, it’s just gestures; it’s false.”
Ms. DeGraffe explained that her job at the conservatorium is to help young people gain their technical level, so that they can surpass the technique. “You have to be so good, and these people are so good, that you’re not thinking about how to do it; they’re thinking about what they’re wanting to say.”
She said seeing Shen Yun reaffirms her belief that performers can reach this level in their art.
She expressed her appreciation for the dancers’ openness and honesty, saying, “Twice, today—they’ve done two shows, haven’t they, today? It must be very hard, but they have to give; and the minute they start to just go through the motions, and not be true, then from a performing angle it’s not the same.”
Reporting by Anne Zhong 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.