Arts & Culture

Architects Amazed by Shen Yun

BY Leigh Smith TIMEFebruary 5, 2010 PRINT

LOS ANGELES—Ms. Lau, whose parents are from Hong Kong, and her friend Mr. Sandoval, are both architects. Mr. Sandoval works for one of the largest architectural firms in the United States. They attended the opening night of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Music Center, on Friday, Jan. 5, the first of 10 shows, and were amazed by the experience.

Ms. Lau has seen Chinese shows in both Hong Kong and China and yet New York-based Shen Yun was much more than she expected. She said, “It was amazing, totally amazing. I've seen a lot of different Chinese cultural shows before. I grew up with it. It has been an ingredient of my life.

“The costuming was absolutely breathtaking, the backdrops, as well as the storylines.”

Being educated by Chinese parents, Ms. Lau felt she knew a lot about Chinese culture. However, she felt Shen Yun was also an education. She said, “I was well-educated, but there are still a couple of stories that I don't know. Year round, my parents would drag me to different cultural events. Some of these things I've never seen, so it's very educational.

“It's also very beautiful, really beautiful. It just makes me appreciate my culture even more and makes me really excited about the Chinese New Year.”

Many aspects of “Mongolian Hospitality” enchanted Ms. Lau. She said, “The Mongolian dance, with the plates, it's musical at the same time. There were so many key moments where it is absolutely beautiful: the drapery, the silk, the movement, and also the bells.”

Ms. Lau’s wanted to share her love of Chinese culture with her friend, so she brought him to see Shen Yun, a depiction of thousands of years of traditional Chinese culture. She said, “I really wanted to bring him. He is from Mexican culture and [has] never seen such a show. I want to give him a special experience for the first time.”

Mr. Sandoval said: “It was amazing. I'm exposed to some dances here and there, mostly on TV, nothing of this extent.

“I was thoroughly amazed. I was particularly amazed by the costumes, how the silk flows. It was just amazing: the colors and texture of the costumes.

Mr. Sandoval has done Mexican folk dancing so he appreciated the quality of the dancing. He said, “The choreography as well [was amazing]. I know a little, how much hard work it takes to choreograph some of the pieces, especially with that many people on stage, and the timing and everything. Especially the lantern dance, it's really something. It was a top-notch show.”

The erhu player, Xiaochun Qi, played “Saving the Predestined.” Mr. Sandoval was particularly moved by the performance. He said: “I've heard it and seen others play. I've never heard it played so beautifully.

Ms. Lau said, “Her heart sang along.”

Mr. Sandoval felt he gained a “new appreciation about Chinese culture … As far as Chinese history, it did open up some windows. … The folklore stories I was not aware of."

Shen Yun state-of-the-art 3-D digital backdrops complimented the performance. Mr. Sandoval said, “The graphics are very Chinese. It is like when you walk into a Chinese place, with all the colors, the color scheme, the palace, the temple. I've always enjoyed Asian buildings in general.”

With reporting by Alex Li

Shen Yun has three dance companies and three orchestras. During its 10 shows in Los Angeles, Shen Yun companies will also be performing in Worcester, Mass., Dallas, Springfield, Ill., St. Louis, and New York.

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Leigh Smith
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