Dance Department Chair Keeps Coming Back to See Shen Yun

May 8, 2010 Updated: May 8, 2010

TORONTO—Mary Jane Warner, Chair of the Department of Dance at York University, has seen Shen Yun perform in Toronto year after year and keeps coming back.

“They’ve always been beautiful dancers,” she said, noting that this year’s production has added more of the highly technical leaps and tumbling moves she has seen in earlier Shen Yun shows.

While many people associate such movements with gymnastics, the hosts of Shen Yun explain that they actually originated from classical Chinese dance and have a history of thousands of years.

The dance professor said she also enjoyed the variety of ethnic and folk dances in this year’s production.

“There’s always a nice variety of dances from different parts of China,” she said.

The dance titled “Handkerchief” particularly stood out. Ms. Warner said she has seen another dance company perform a handkerchief dance before, “but this one [by Shen Yun] was quite spectacular.”

In “Hankerchiefs,” Shen Yun’s female dancers twirl and toss their handkerchiefs with practiced ease in a dance from northeast China that captures the vigour and vibrancy of spring.

Ms. Warner also noted the use of water sleeves—long, flowing sleeves that extend and accentuate the dancer’s movements. She said it was a complicated and difficult type of dance to pull off.

“You need a fair bit of strength to keep them up in the air. It looks so effortless but in fact it isn’t that easy to do, to keep them in unison,” said Ms. Warner.

“They’re quite remarkable dancers because they’re so together in unison and they always have this beautiful quality of flow, of ease about their movements. They seem to be just truly enjoying what they’re doing. It really comes across and you only get that with many years of hard, hard work and discipline.”

Shen Yun will stage three more shows at Canon Theatre on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, please visit