Critics Applaud Shen Yun’s Mission and Discipline
Art critics Danny Gaisin and his wife, Terry, who both write for the Ontario Arts Review, were at the Jan. 11 evening performance for their second time—having seen the show in Toronto in 2008.
“I love all the dancing and the singing and the music is just beautiful,” said Mrs. Gaisin. “It’s just so creative and they look like they’re having a good time.”
“It is spectacular,” added Mr. Gaisin, who was also a columnist with Oakville Today and publisher/reviewer for Halton Arts Review.
Mr. Gaisin said Shen Yun was an important vehicle for keeping China’s cultural traditions alive.
“Ancient traditions stay, they hold people together, they allow people to identify with their ancestors, and they understand their own habits and styles because those are a result of the 5,000 years of tradition,” he said.
“They need to be nurtured, supported, it needs to be recognized and kept and understood.”
New York-based Shen Yun was formed in 2006 with a mission to revive 5,000 years of China’s divinely inspired culture—a culture that has been systematically destroyed over decades of repression under the communist regime.
Mr. Gaisin said Shen Yun helped to raise awareness that there’s “more to China” then modern-day materialism.
“There is still a tremendous culture that even a [totalitarian] government like China has today can’t keep it hidden,” he said.
“It is still being kept, honoured, represented, and shown to new generations, and that’s so important.”
Mr. Gaisin said he was most impressed with the obvious discipline and talent the dancers displayed.
“To be able to be so synchronized, to be able to follow such choreography, to be so intense—what they do has to require focus and extreme discipline,” he said.
One example of this discipline is the split-second timing required between the dancers, orchestra, and animated backdrops featured in Shen Yun.
All three must seamlessly combine to create the illusion that the performers can leap in and out of the digital screens.
A dance called Ne Zha Churns the Sea is a good illustration of this timing, said Mr. Gaisin. The lively dance tells the story of demi-god Ne Zha, who is born out of a giant meatball to save an idyllic seaside village from an evil Dragon King.
“The transitions between the backdrop and continually on to the stage was very well done,” Mr. Gaisin said. “When we’re seeing what goes on in the back projection and then it comes into the front stage was very, very clever. The amount of work and the timing is amazing engineering.”
Each dance is also performed with the accompaniment of Shen Yun’s unique orchestra—a combination of classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments.
“It’s magnificent,” Mr. Gaisin said of the orchestra. “Wonderful.”
Mr. Gaisin said Shen Yun’s performers displayed high-level talent.
“The ability of the performers, the dance and singing, you could see that they spend a lot of time training and developing that level of skill,” he said, adding that he enjoyed “everything.”
Burlington-based artist Kenny Hospedales enjoyed Shen Yun Performing Arts at Hamilton Place Theatre on Jan. 11, 2014. (Lisa Ou/Epoch Times)
Burlington-based visual artist Kenny Hospedales, who was also in attendance at the Jan. 11 performance, said Shen Yun’s use of colour was extraordinary.
“I liked the colour scheme for every scene and how it matched with the costumes,” he said.
“Normally you don’t see those kinds of combinations, I thought that was very good,” he noted, speaking to the visual feast of bright hues and meticulous detail found in the striking backdrops and garment designs on stage, which emphasize harmonic balance and contrast, as noted on the Shen Yun website.
Reporting by Lisa Ou and Justina Wheale
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will perform in Hamilton for one more show Sunday before going on to Kitchener-Waterloo. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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.