Artists Express the Pleasures of Shen Yun

January 5, 2014 6:24 am Last Updated: January 5, 2014 3:00 pm

OTTAWA, Canada—Shen Yun Performing Arts staged its unique presentation of dance, music, and vivid animation at the National Arts Centre on Saturday night to the delight of two artists in the full house audience.

Noel Naranjo, a multidisciplinary creative artist who plays music, paints, and does other art forms, said the traditional culture captured in the show was dazzling.

“I’m very impressed and surprised for my first time. It’s great,” he said.

“I’ve never experienced this before. It was just amazing coming here and seeing those performances. So colourful. I love it.”

Those colours are proffered in Shen Yun’s hundreds of handmade original costumes and digitally projected backdrops created by the company’s team of visual artists.

Those visual works are an integral part of the large-scale classical Chinese dance performances that Shen Yun stages with the accompaniment of a unique East-meets-West symphony orchestra. The Shen Yun Orchestra features traditional Western instruments along with melodies led by Chinese instruments like the pipa and suona.

Mr. Naranjo said he appreciated how disciplined the dancers and musicians were in keeping all elements of the performance in synchronicity.

“That was very impressive,” he said.

Classical Chinese dance might have been a new experience, but he said he already had an appreciation for kung fu, which has a close relationship with Chinese dance.

“I really love kung fu and martial arts and the Chinese tradition,” he said.

Shen Yun’s website explains how kung fu and classical Chinese dance are siblings.

“Chinese martial arts and classical Chinese dance can be thought of as twins conceived 5,000 years ago by the earliest progenitors of Chinese culture,” explains the site.

The site goes on to say, “Although spawned from the same roots, these siblings with vastly contrasting personalities served very different purposes. Whereas Chinese martial arts fulfilled the practical purpose of fighting and defending, classical Chinese dance entertained dignitaries of the imperial court as a performing art.”

For Mr. Naranjo, who was on stage with his own band, Azucar Jam, just the day before, seeing Shen Yun was an all together thrilling experience, he said.

“I just love it. That’s all I can say about that. I just love it. It’s amazing.”

Painter Enjoys Shen Yun Backdrops

Also attending that night was Holly Cooper, a landscape artist who said she deeply appreciated the work that went into the performance.

“I love it. It’s amazing,” she said, echoing Mr. Naranjo’s sentiment.

As a painter herself, Mrs. Cooper paid close attention to the action on Shen Yun’s animated backdrop, which opens a window to realms of heaven and earth. Sometimes the characters on the stage even merge with the scenes playing out on the backdrop, an element Mrs Cooper enjoyed.

“The backdrops were beautiful. Gorgeous. The colours were all vibrant,” she said.

“I love that on the screen there’s something going on and then people pop out. It’s amazing.”

Shen Yun was founded on a mission to revive China’s divinely inspired civilization, a culture largely destroyed in China under 60 years of communist rule and varying degrees of forced atheism. That history includes countless tales and legends, a rich culture Shen Yun draws on for many of its story-based dances.

“The culture is amazing. It’s nice to be shown the culture and the snapback of 5,000 years,” Mrs. Cooper said.

Speaking during intermission, she said Shen Yun had thus far done an excellent job reviving 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, the founding mission of the group.

She said that the traditional virtues conveyed by the show included “loyalty and devotion in the girl who lost her mother. Yeah, I cried. It was moving.”

“You can feel the spirituality coming through the screen, through the dancing. Everything comes together. It’s actually spiritually moving.”

Mrs. Cooper said one of those stories, Ne Zha Churns The Sea, was awesome. The story tells of a demigod born as a meatball to a local lord and lady. Dismayed at first, the parents are later surprised as the meatball suddenly grows into a young boy who fights an evil Dragon King that terrorized the area.

“I love it with the dragon that was popping out from under the sea. I like that it tells a story,” she said.

Ms. Cooper said she also enjoyed the “beautiful draping fabrics” in Shen Yun’s costumes.

“It was gorgeous.”

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. Shen Yun’s World Company finished its four-show run in Ottawa on Saturday and will now go on to perform in Montreal on Jan. 6-9.

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.