NEW YORK—A traditional Chinese culture tour-de-force was on display as Shen Yun Performing Arts played to a full house at the Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater on Sunday afternoon.
Two classical ballet dance teachers, Carol Mamara and Dina Michelle, saw the performance and were both impressed by "the precision" of the dancers' technical skills.
Ms. Mamara is the artistic director of Dance Emotions, which teaches both professional and recreational dance. Ms. Michelle is also an educator with the dance company.
"The precision with the props and everyone together, in unison, [is] amazing," Ms. Mamara said.
Shen Yun uses classical Chinese dance as its main medium of expression. Ms. Mamara said it’s "very colorful" and "depicts the people and their country. I think that's very lovely."
She noted that the 5,000-year-old culture of China was displayed throughout the performance.
"Very interesting because of the age of China and … it's a much older civilization than ours," she added, "and being an artist myself I can relate to that. And how it brings you through time, and through the turmoil, through the years."
Ms. Michelle said the spirituality of the show was easily visible.
"The beautiful thing of the spirit of this show is that it makes you prevent yourself from ever feeling violent in nature," Ms. Michelle said, "because of the beauty of the momentum and the unity … everyone of them moving in such a beautiful way and receiving this beautiful energy from heaven and each other.
"It shows that there's such a peaceful power inside of them, to be able to just control all their movements, and so freely express their beauty," she added.
The Shen Yun performance deals not only with China's long history, but also with stories unfolding in China today. They speak of Chinese people overcoming adversity in the face of persecution by China's ruling communist regime, and contain a feeling of hope and renewal, and a sense that unfavorable situations will be righted in the end.
"I know the people of China are suffering a great deal, under the government," Ms. Mamara said. "There are so many students that have been wrongfully treated and persecuted for nothing, just for wanting the right to speak out."
The New York-based company is comprised of mainly ethnic Chinese born outside of China. Because of its free-thinking content, Shen Yun is barred from playing in Mainland China.
Considering the Shen Yun performers' ability to express themselves freely, Ms. Mamara said:
"I think that's what they're longing for and I think that's why the whole company is so happy to do what they're doing."
Ms. Mamara also said she saw the Shen Yun show as an antidote to suffering and feeling depressed.
"You can hang your head so low, but when you come to the show, your spirit is not going to fall down; you're going to be lifted, and that's what you need," she enthused.
With reporting by Pamela Tsai and Jack Phillips.
State Senate Candidate and Attorney Applauds Shen Yun
'The show is great, the show is absolutely tremendous'
NEW YORK—Attorney John Messer and his wife Wendy attended the final performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company’s ten-show engagement at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on Sunday, Jan. 16.
The couple had much to say about the afternoon performance, a sold-out show that received a standing ovation and two curtain calls. This was Mr. Messer’s first time seeing the New York-based Shen Yun perform and the second time for Mrs. Messer.
Mr. Messer was a candidate in the November elections for the New York State Assembly’s 16th District, covering much of Queens. He is currently a lawyer in the community. His response to the performance was enthusiastic.
“The show is great," he said. "The show is absolutely tremendous.”
Shen Yun has as its mission, through the arts, to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture, much of which was destroyed under decades of communist rule. Shen Yun dance routines contain classical Chinese dance, as well as Chinese ethnic and folk dance, together forming one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world.
Mr. Messer complimented the dancers' skills: “If you look at any of the dancers, they’re all in tremendous shape. It was great, it was really great. I didn’t expect it to be so acrobatic.”
Many contemporary dance-related art forms have borrowed their techniques from classical Chinese dance, including the tumbling techniques seen in today's gymnastics or acrobatics.
Shen Yun’s dances tell stories of China's long history, all accompanied by a full orchestra featuring both Eastern and Western instruments. The show is made visually stunning with hundreds of handmade costumes, and performed in front of a high-tech animated backdrop that features scenery specially created for each dance or song.
Mr. Messer commented on the rich content of the program:
“I think it’s great that Shen Yun was able to take something traditional and historical, the culture, and present it in a way that lets us know what still goes on in the world [today], specifically in China,” he said.
Aside from stories from the past, Shen Yun also features dances that showcase today's Chinese people overcoming adversity in the face of persecution from the ruling communist regime.
“I thought they [Shen Yun] did it in a very tasteful way," he said. "You came away knowing that certain atrocities still exist, but they also did it in a way that [the presentation] was beautiful."
Mr. Messer went on to reflect on how lucky he feels Americans are to live in a country where they can freely express themselves without fear of reprisal.
"It's a dichotomy: they [Shen Yun artists] show the beauty of the tradition and of the history, and [also that] there is another side to history in China," he said.
"They're doing it in a way that [lets] people know that it [persecution] still exists," he said. "It came through very clear and balanced."
Mrs. Messer, who has attended a previous tour of Shen Yun Performing Arts, was quite impressed with this year’s show.
“It was beautiful, the colors, the story, the dancers … the costumes were very good also,” Mrs. Messer said. “The orchestra was amazing.”
Sharing his hope to see Shen Yun again, Mr. Messner concluded: “I really enjoyed it, we’ll definitely be back.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company wrapped up its two-week run at Lincoln Center Jan. 16, in a sold-out matinee performance. The company will now travel to Schenectady, N.Y., to perform at Proctors Theatre on Jan. 19, and then continue its tour to perform at The Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington D.C., Jan. 26-30.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.