Choreographers and Dance Teachers Blown Away by Shen Yun

January 15, 2022 ShareSHARE

DETROIT—When you’ve seen as many performances as Mary Salmon has, it would be hard to be impressed.

The Dayton Ballet choreographer and teacher attended the Jan. 14 performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Detroit Opera House, and she had endless positive comments about the show.

“It was absolutely amazing! The choreography, of course! It’s understated when I say it’s extraordinary,” she said. “And I was really interested in the way that the use of props was very consistent. … It was just really over-the-top amazing skill!”

Ms. Salmon was with the Dayton Ballet in Ohio, where she was on the artistic staff, choreographed, and taught for many years. Before her tenure with the Dayton Ballet, she was with the Butler and the Indianapolis Ballet.

One of the details of the performance that particularly struck her was the use of props in a way that is unique to classical Chinese dance. For example, spinning handkerchiefs, or using elements of costumes such as long sleeves as an extension of and emphasis of a dance movement.

They were using props in a way that I haven’t seen very much in all of my years of watching ballet and all performances.
— Mary Salmon

“They were using props in a way that I haven’t seen very much in all of my years of watching ballet and all performances. And I’ve seen every company imaginable, in the U.S., Paris Opera, some other companies in Europe … That was what was most striking to me, … the extraordinary talent and the use of props.”

Shen Yun is an international phenomenon, with performances in over 150 cities each year. Since its inception in 2006, it’s been presenting classical Chinese dance and music as a way to revive traditional Chinese culture and raise awareness of its destruction under the communist regime. Chinese culture is deeply spiritual, which is one of the reasons that it’s under attack by the atheist communists.

As a Roman Catholic, said Ms. Salmon, describing the impact of Shen Yun, it is “an important part of life to remember there is something beyond what we are. … That’s a fine line to rock for a company, and to find the dancers that can communicate those issues. That’s a very difficult thing. But they succeed extraordinarily well!”

“That means a lot to me,” she continued. “I don’t feel so alone, as a European or American, that in China those beliefs are still there. … And throughout the history, from what I learned tonight, in China, it was a way of life!”

Ms. Salmon brought six family members to the performance.

“If they were performing next weekend, I’d have 20! … You have to see this. It’s truly so powerful, emotional, spiritual,” Ms. Salmon said. “And even if your mind isn’t very spiritual, it kind of seeps in there, gives you something to think about when you go to bed tonight.”

Shen Yun Is ‘A Piece of History’

Rebecca Crimmins, who owns two dance studios and teaches tap and jazz at Oakland University, was just as impressed with the performance.

“The artistry and the history are amazing,” Ms. Crimmins said. “It really stands out to me as a dance instructor, realizing how simple they make everything look … It looks so easy, but I know it’s exceedingly hard. [It] took a lot of training, and the dancers make it look effortless.”

01-20220114-730pm-Detroit-xinxin Teng-dance school owner teach in university
Dance instructor Rebecca Crimmins attends the Jan. 14, 2022 Shen Yun performance in Detroit. (Teng Dongyu/Epoch Times)

Of the female dancers, she said: “Wow—it’s such an ensemble cast. I don’t think that one dancer necessarily outshines any [other] and you get the beauty of the show. You can watch everyone on stage and the ability across the board is there. They’re all beautiful artists.”

Shen Yun artists train with an intense focus to master the diverse flips, turns, and jumps that make up classical Chinese dance—a legacy with thousands of years of history.

Of the male dancers, Ms. Crimmins described them as “strong, vibrant, energizing.”

“Again, they make it look so effortless and easy, but the athleticism is outstanding.”

As a dance educator, she recommends Shen Yun to “dancers of all ages, but especially younger dancers because they can follow a storyline,” she said. “And it is easy to follow, and it is educational and maybe something they are not familiar with but they can learn.”

The fact that Shen Yun’s mission extends beyond dance into cultural preservation is important to her.

“It’s nice to know the history behind the show,” she said. “That’s something that you really don’t see from the billboards or maybe the advertising. But it’s really showing a piece of history. I think that can be learned by everybody.”

Reporting by Teng Dongyu.

The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.

Recent Reviews