Banker Drawn to ‘Mystical Aspects’ of Shen Yun

April 19, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Mary Brautigam attends Shen Yun
Mary Brautigam attends Shen Yun Performing Arts in New York. (Courtesy of NTD Television)

NEW YORK—Shen Yun Performing Arts brought Chinese classical dance and its movements and postures that bring out inner meaning of intrinsic thoughts and feelings to a packed theater at Lincoln Center on Wednesday. Mary Brautigam, Senior Vice President Regional Executive at Sovereign Bank, “very much enjoyed … [getting] a glimpse of Chinese culture and understanding the mystical aspects and the traditional dance.”

The Chinese have long held their culture to be divinely inspired, according to the company. Shen Yun tours the world reviving this ancient culture and its traditional dance form. Classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive systems in the world, with focus on breath, balance, and conveying an inner spiritual state.

The New York-based company brings 5,000 of Chinese culture to the stage, while blending in elements of western culture with its unique orchestra.

“The orchestra did such a marvelous job blending the Chinese instruments with the Western instruments,” observed Ms. Brautigam. “It just made for a phenomenal evening.”

The Shen Yun Orchestra tours with the company; this is unusual for performances of this scale, which usually use local performers. The violin plays next to the ehru, a traditional two-stringed Chinese instrument similar to the violin; the flute next to the dizi, a Chinese wind instrument; with a wide range of other instruments, such as hand bells, a gong, and trumpets.

The Western philharmonic orchestra provides the foundation while the Chinese instruments accompany to lead the melody, according to the Shen Yun website. “The sound produced is uniquely pleasing to the ear. The ensemble at once expresses both the grandeur of a Western orchestra and the distinct sensibilities of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization.”

Much like the postures of the Chinese classical dance, the music is imbued with symbolism and significance.

For example, the Chinese lute, or pipa, has measurements that represent the three powers of heaven, earth, and man as well as the five elements. Its four strings represent the four seasons, according to the Shen Yun website.

“I take home with me a whole brand new understanding of Chinese culture and how it is available right here in New York City,” said Ms. Brautigam. “It is fantastic, and we have the opportunity every year to be a part of this. It is quite remarkable.”

Shen Yun’s program changes every year, with new costumes, dances, backdrops, and musical compositions. April’s performances at Lincoln Center will be the last of the 2012 show in New York City.

Reporting by NTD Television and Tara MacIsaac

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center through April 22.

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