GOLD COAST, Australia—Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company was “brilliant,” said marketing manager Teena Hamalis at the Gold Coast’s Arts Theatre on April 25.
Shen Yun was formed in 2006 with a mission to revive China’s true culture through classical Chinese dance and music.
“I’m loving the show, really enjoying it. Fantastic colour, fantastic culture. And most importantly for me, I’m training to be a soprano opera singer,” she said at intermission. “I loved the interpretation with the Chinese characters being expressed through soprano singing. That was quite amazing.”
The New York-based company’s website describes this element of the vocal solos: “The primary trait that distinguishes the singers of Shen Yun is their use of bel canto technique to sing Chinese text. Moreover, the song texts the singers perform are original works written for these pieces, brimming with philosophical reflection about human life and containing deep layers of meaning.”
Ms. Hamalis thought Shen Yun‘s portrayal of China’s 5,000-year-old cultural heritage was “translated beautifully and brings in a modern twist.” She considered the difficulty that young people would have getting a sense of China’s traditional culture.
“But this is an original and modern twist to bring history back to life, especially for China. China is always known for so many other things like manufacturing, etcetera. This is so vibrant and it is exactly what we need [to know] about Chinese history.”
Ms. Hamalis said she felt very connected with the spirituality portrayed in Shen Yun.
“I think it is very important to understand who we are, to know where we are going. So I think it is a very important part of spirituality.
“But of course music and the connection with history and also a lot of elements in the story itself that is being expressed have a lot of spiritual importance and significance. For instance, the whole thing about not being able to meditate … .”
The website mentions the various campaigns by the Chinese Communist Party—most notably the Cultural Revolution—aimed at destroying cultural sites, temples, and relics, as well as the Chinese people’s belief in virtue and faith in the divine. On July 20, 1999, the regime focused its persecution on Falun Gong, an ancient meditation system.
Ms. Hamalis praised Shen Yun for its openness in expressing spirituality.
“We are all connected and it is really nice being open about it. And it is just through storytelling and things, you can make that connection from an esoteric side to the arts, which is really important and with culture as well.”
She urged others to see the performance, summing up her experience in one word: “Brilliant!”
“It is beautiful, it’s colourful, it tells a story, it shows Chinese culture in a new light, it’s educational. It’s a journey back 5,000 years—go and watch it.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Raiatea Tahana-Reese