MISSISSAUGA, Canada—Dance after dance, the magic of Shen Yun Performing Arts left two artists moved and waiting for more—one of them hoping it wouldn’t end, the other with barely enough time to applaud.
Najma Kausar, a full-time artist who works across mediums, heard from a friend that Shen Yun was a great show and wanted to see it.
“I loved it—loved it, because there were so many performances and they were all so beautiful and colourful. Everything, we enjoyed it,” she said after the performance.
With her was friend and fellow artist Sabine Ellen, a visual artist, photographer, and musician.
“We were looking forward since three months ago when we got the tickets. And we got the best seats in the place. And it’s stunning,” said Ms. Ellen.
“It is so different from the classical ballet in the West, so it is very, very different, and I really liked it,” she said.
Both women are educators. Ms. Kausar began learning to paint in childhood and left her work as a teacher so she could focus full-time on her art.
They were both impressed by Shen Yun’s state-of-the-art digital projections, vividly animated backdrops that set the scene for each dance.
“That was so amazing. I found it a little magical. I felt like a child, that the things were coming out of the sky,” said Ms. Kausar.
“It was simple at the same time but very, very surprising each time. It was each time a surprise—the dance and the backdrop setup … the lighting, everything. The curtain opens and it’s a new world, every time different,” said Ms. Ellen.
The backdrops are designed to compliment and synchronize all aspects of the performance, from characters to the colours of the costumes and notes played by the orchestra.
“And the orchestra, the traditional Chinese instruments and classical together was very good,” said Ms. Ellen.
Deep in Chinese culture
Ms. Kausar said she was surprised but not surprised to hear from Shen Yun’s two hosts that ancient Chinese considered music medicinal and explained that the word for medicine comes from the word for music.
“Because it’s really healing, and it’s so deep in Chinese culture,” said Kausar.
Shen Yun’s dancers perform with the support of a unique philharmonic orchestra that includes traditional Chinese instruments leading the melodies.
There was a deeper aspect to the performance Ms. Ellen also appreciated.
“I feel the Chinese culture is surviving in the Western world, because so many things are not allowed in China, and I liked it that it was brought out,” she said.
Shen Yun was founded on a mission of reviving that culture, a point detailed on its website.
“After more than 60 years of Communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished,” the website states.
“However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honour, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.”
Ms. Ellen said it was important to preserve that culture so it could one day flourish again in China.
“I feel a lot of their things then need to be cultured here in the Western world and travel back one day, one day when China is open again, and it’s a democratic or free country,” she said.
It was a big production, she said, with a lot to take in.
“It needs a little time to digest, because it was so fast. We didn’t even have time to applaud, and the next came, the next scene, so we need some time,” said Ms. Ellen.
“I was wishing it won’t stop, it won’t end, like keep on going. Because really, you didn’t get bored. … I wanted to see more,” said Ms. Kausar.
“Everything was very artistic,” she said.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company will be in Mississauga until Dec. 23 before going to Ottawa and Montreal and other dates in Ontario, Quebec, and across Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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