MISSISSAUGA, Canada—Three dancers of Indian origin were thrilled with Shen Yun Performing Arts’ presentation of Chinese culture through dance and music at the Living Arts Centre on Thursday evening.
“The show was amazing,” said Gaurav Bhatti, who dances Indian classical and Bollywood style.
Mr. Bhatti was particularly impressed by the synchronicity of the dancers. Some of Shen Yun’s pieces depict stories from China’s 5,000-year history, while others are large-scale ethnic or folk dances.
“I think the show is very successful … the synchronization in the dances, the peacefulness and the music—all that together,” he said.
“The costumes are very colourful, and at the same time they are very calm, and there was something interesting about it, the way they were set up. And I think it’s very smartly choreographed—not just the dance part but the costume parts also.”
He added that he saw some links between the cultures of China and India, such as the colourful costumes.
“The costumes are very colourful. I could make a lot of connections with the culture and the inspiration from one culture to the other culture.”
Mr. Bhatti has won Best Bollywood, Best Classical, and Best Theme awards in various competitions across Ontario. He made it to the second round of auditions of the hit TV show “Just Dance” on Star Plus, and was given a certificate by prominent Bollywood judges Farah Khan and Vaibhavi Merchant for an audition piece in New York.
Mr. Bhatti and Mah-Jabeen Jesani regularly dance together. Ms. Jesani, who has won two Best Classical awards for her choreography, was similarly enthusiastic about Shen Yun’s performance.
“We really enjoyed the show because of the dance production itself having tied everything in together: the music, the costumes. The costumes played a big role, and how to use them—they really know how to use them well,” she said.
Ms. Jesani was very impressed by the skill of the dancers.
“They were really stable and they all had uniform footwork. And the finger movements—each one of them had the same type of movements, and their elbows, were all straight, their lines—all that was really, really good and very graceful,” she said.
“I’ve never seen so much grace all together. The male and the female dancers were very, very graceful but still very strong in their dance.”
Shen Yun performances feature award-winning classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra that combines traditional Chinese instruments with a classical Western orchestra, groundbreaking animated backdrops, and hundreds of colourful handmade costumes.
Ms. Jesani said the production inspired her.
“I feel like I want to dance right now, I want to move. Very inspirational, both in the message of the Chinese culture and also just in dance, like dance and arts.”
She particularly enjoyed the piece Manchurian Grace, which depicts Manchurian princesses with elaborate headdresses gliding gracefully on elevated “flowerpot shoes.”
“The shoe dance is very interesting. I don’t know how they stand in those. It was really good,” she said.
The third in the trio, Shama Kassam, has danced with Mr. Bhatti and Ms. Jesani periodically, but mostly dances solo. She said the most impressive thing for her was the synchronization of the Shen Yun dancers.
“For me, the highlight by far especially as a dancer was the synchronization of the whole performance. The dancers were unbelievably talented … they were flexible, very strong. It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” she said.
”I really enjoyed seeing the lifts and the jumps, the partner work between male and female,” she added, noting the costumes and the backdrops as well.
”The costumes were beautiful. It really made me more interested in Chinese culture and learning more about Chinese history. And as well, I really liked the screen—the blending of the screen and the stage, and them connecting it as one. I really loved that. It was really amazing. The timing was unbelievable.”
In some of the pieces, Shen Yun’s enormous digital backdrop becomes animated and interacts with the dancers in order to help tell the story being played out on stage. It depends on split-second timing by the dancers.
One of the most memorable pieces for Ms. Kassam was The Steadfast Lotus, a modern-day story-based dance that depicts the plight of the practitioners of Falun Gong in their peaceful resistance to persecution by the Chinese regime.
“It was really, really beautiful,” she said. “I found it was very powerful.”
Shen Yun portrays principles from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism such as justice, propriety, wisdom, and respect for the divine—ideals that are the essence of traditional Chinese culture, according to the Shen Yun website.
“It definitely reminded us of the beauty of Chinese culture and the peaceful nature and the concept of harmony in Chinese culture. It was beautiful, really nice,” said Ms. Kassam.
Mr. Bhatti said he would tell his friends that they should come see the show, adding that he gained inspiration from the experience and it made him want to practice dancing with greater diligence.
“It inspired me a lot,” he said. “In the last few days I’ve not been practicing dance. So I feel like I should get on it.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Joan Delaney
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will perform four more shows in Mississauga, finishing on Jan. 19 before continuing on to Toronto to play five shows at the Sony Centre Jan. 23-26. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.