Dance Teacher: Shen Yun Dancers Just Unbelievable

January 22, 2011 Updated: January 23, 2011

DETROIT—Attending the Saturday night performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company’s show held at the Detroit Opera House was Tomia MacQueen. The former full time dance teacher, who now spreads her time between family and teaching dance at her church, had her very first experience of classical Chinese Dance.

“It’s the first time I’ve actually had a chance to see traditional Chinese dance, classical Chinese dance live, so for me as a professional, it’s just a wonderful experience,” said Ms. MacQueen.

Ms. MacQueen, who was with the Hunter College Dance Company and the Art of Motion Dance Company in New York, is a subscriber to Michigan Opera. She comes to many operas and dance performances at the opera house.

“I’ve been looking forward to it for months. One of the [Shen Yun] fliers was in the envelope when you subscribe to some of the other events. I just had to come by,” she said.

Ms. MacQueen thought the performance of the dancers was just unbelievable, that their technique was perfect.

“I think that the performance was spectacular, particularly the dancing and the costumes are extraordinary. And the level of technique is absolutely perfect,” she said.

At the heart of Shen Yun’s performances is classical Chinese dance, a style which has a vast training system, and is a dance form still mostly new to the West.

These dance techniques made a big impression on Ms. MacQueen. “Well for me, the hand placement is a very big issue,” she shared.

“We talk about level of energy … going through the fingertips, in terms of dance,” she said, “but in order to get the kind of flexibility, and detail, in the hands—it’s just incredible.”

“So I would love to actually learn more about how they learned to get that in their hands,” said Ms. MacQueen.

Moving from a mention of the hands, Ms. MacQueen began talking about the feet: “Well the feet are spectacular." It was mesmerizing for her to she so much attention paid to the feet, to footwork.

A pleasant surprise for Ms. MacQueen was the tenors, sopranos and other award-winning vocalists performing their piano-accompanied solos, and the recital of the Chinese instrument or erhu.

Referring to the erhu soloist: “The music was wonderful, the two-string [instrument], that was absolutely beautiful. If she had a CD I’d buy it in a heartbeat.”

“And the vocalists were very, very good.”

“So I thought that was absolutely wonderful, and unexpected. So it was great.”

Reporting by Charlie Lu and Barry Mills.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For dates in Detroit and Washington, visit