SAN FRANCISCO—Dance company founder Kat Worthington found herself in wonder and awe sitting at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, Jan. 11, and seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts for the first time.
“They’re incredible,” Ms. Worthington said of New York-based Shen Yun’s dancers. “It’s like they have springs on their feet; it’s incredible.”
Ms. Worthington is the founder of Copious Dance Theater and has taught, performed, and choreographed in the Bay Area, New York City, and across countries in Europe and Asia. As the artistic director, Ms. Worthington aspires to create performances that are uplifting as well as athletic, and was thoroughly inspired watching Shen Yun.
Shen Yun was established by artists from around the world in 2006 to revive 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, and Ms. Worthington was glad to see every aspect of the performance had been about the divinely inspired Chinese culture.
“It’s so all out Chinese culture; I’m glad they went all the way,” Ms. Worthington said. “They have the full on music and the backdrop and the stories and the costumes—they didn’t just do a little bit.”
Shen Yun performs mostly classical Chinese dance, along with ethnic and folk dances from some of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups like the Mongolian Chopsticks dance.
“It’s very intricate and complicated and colorful, and I’m impressed with the costumes and the steps, that complicated work,” Ms. Worthington said. “They’re very together and it’s very clean, and just different from what we see here.”
Classical Chinese dance includes many highly difficult aerial techniques, as well as postures and movements unique to the form. And through the dance, Shen Yun tells stories from various periods and regions of China.
Ms. Worthington found the storytelling very entertaining, and had enjoyed seeing the way the movements were used to tell the stories.
Many of the movements were literal, she said, which made the pieces entertaining because the tales were so easy to follow. Ms. Worthington said it was different from the Western forms she was familiar with, but “you understand the story and you get it.”
The costumes as well had impressed Ms. Worthington both aesthetically and production-wise. For instance, the use of color had been unlike the use in any production Ms. Worthington had seen.
“I think they’re beautiful and I think it’s amazing how many they have, and none look alike,” Ms. Worthington said. “There are so many changes that the quickness in which they change into the next thing and the colors they come up with, it’s incredible.”
Shen Yun creates hundreds of costume pieces for every performance, which is completely new every year. The costumes give the audience a sense of traditional Chinese attire, which is said to be inspired by the heavens, and every one is a spectacle.
“I feel like I’m sitting in China,” Ms. Worthington said.
Reporting by Catherine Yang
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. 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.