BOSTON—Classical Chinese dance company Shen Yun Performing Arts drew a diverse crowd to its opening night performance at the Boston Opera House, on Jan. 23, 2015. This is the eighth year that Boston has received Shen Yun, whose annual performances feature the world’s top classically trained dancers, an orchestra blending East and West, and animated backdrops.
The performances offer vignettes into China’s 5,000 years of culture and have drawn a loyal following since their beginnings in 2006.
Opening night at Boston Opera House saw repeat and new patrons. Lisly Chery and Carolle Tertulien are lifelong friends who grew up together in Lascahobas, a market town in the western side of Haiti.
“He wanted me to share the experience, and it was a great experience,” Ms. Tertulien said.
Mr. Chery has seen Shen Yun twice before and brought his friend of over 50 years to the Boston performance while they were both in town visiting family. They live in the New York/New Jersey area.
Ms. Tertulien was drawn in the by way the dancers on the stage interacted with the vibrant animated backdrops, which help bring the historical stories to life. It was the feeling of the dance that has brought Mr. Chery back time and again.
“The dancing is so blissful, fluid,” he said, gesturing gracefully.
Classical Chinese dance is one of the most expressive and comprehensive dance systems in the world, according to the Shen Yun website. With its roots in martial arts, it is the originator of acrobatics and incorporates a myriad of flips, leaps, and turns that are at once demanding technically and dramatic to behold.
Pure emotion is what touched Merrick Johnson about the performance. An engineer for Siemens Healthcare, Mr. Johnson had been wanting to see Shen Yun for quite some time. “It was awesome, the way that they move was flawless,” he said.
Audience members spoke in unison of their appreciation for the perfect synchronicity of movement, music, and feeling.
“I couldn’t see one mistake in it,” declared 9-year-old Juliana, who attended the show with her father, Fernely Losada and her sister Antonella, 11, in celebration of her mother’s birthday.
“I really liked [the piece] Mighty Monk because it made me laugh,” Antonella chimed in, beaming. She was referring to a humorous story of a junior monk who is the butt of many jokes until he gains supernatural strength from a bowl of magical meat—forbidden food in the strict environment of Buddhist monasteries.
The plot thickens when the monastery is attacked by marauding thieves and the junior monk becomes a hero, using his supernormal powers to control the movements of the invaders, who dance to their demise with perfectly executed choreography.
“I have never seen something like it,” said Mr. Losada, who is originally from Colombia and now lives in Milford, Mass., with his family.
Also in the audience was Marlene Messina, an oceanographer and small-business owner from Natick, who attended with her friends, Elizabeth and Maurice Teixeira.
“It’s a very sweet, gentle performance. They’re working very hard, but they’re making it look so easy,” said Ms. Messina.
Her friends the Teixeiras were drawn to Shen Yun because their son lives in China and they have two Chinese-American grandchildren. Both have been to China, and felt that Shen Yun was an opportunity to learn more about the culture.
Mr. Teixeira called the show “awe-inspiring,” and wondered why he had waited so long to see it. “I will see it again if I have the chance,” he said.
Kelly Cramer and her daughter Virginia, age 8, of Watertown had also decided “that this is the year,” after having seen posters and advertisements for Shen Yun for several years.
Ms. Cramer, who works in executive education at the Harvard Business School, appreciated the many flips, jumps, and tumbles skillfully executed by the dancers.
The powerful grace exhibited by the male dancers was in balanced contrast to the gentle strength of the female dancers.
Ms. Cramer said she was particularly taken by Courtyard Elegance, referring to a classical piece in which female dancers “delight in simple joys that reflect their innocent hearts,” according to the program.
Audience members commented on the vibrant colors and intricate costumes, the serenity in the music and the skill of the dancers.
“I am just enjoying the entire experience,” said Brian Barry, a retired Department of Revenue employee, who brought his wife and two daughters to the show. “It’s very unique for myself, here in Boston, I have never seen anything like it.”
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.