Director and Model Find Beauty in Shen Yun
TORONTO-Shen Yun Performing Arts left director Bradley Walsh and model-turned-businesswoman Melani Chong enthralled by its presentation of classical Chinese dance.
They took a moment during intermission to share their thoughts on the performers they were watching that day at Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
“They’re so beautiful. The colours and the combinations and just the imagination that goes into it, and the way they flow and move—it’s amazing. It’s very imaginative,” said Ms. Chong.
“It’s incredible athleticism there too, it’s just amazing,” added Mr. Walsh. “There’s a moment when there’s this gentleman just going across the stage, and I cannot remember how many times that guy jumped.”
Mr. Walsh is an accomplished director who came to international attention with his six-spot commercial campaign for the NBA. Beyond directing over 100 commercials, he also directs music videos for bands like Sum41 and Treble Charger, earning six MuchMusic Video Awards. He has since gone on to longer formats including short films and the MTV drama, Kaya.
Ms. Chong is a model with Canadian Ford who’s appeared on the cover of Canadian Family and elsewhere. After 20 years in the fashion and beauty industry she went back to school to become a cosmetic scientist and has since developed Soya Boutique, a line of skincare products based on the anti-aging qualities of soy.
“We love it, it’s amazing,” said Ms. Chong, noting that she found it very uplifting and joyful watching the Shen Yun performance.
“I love the live music. I love the creativity of the dance and the costumes, and it’s really upbeat. It gives you a happy feeling,” said Ms. Chong.
Classical Chinese dance is a highly expressive art form with a history of thousands of years, passed down and enriched dynasty after dynasty in China’s royal courts, opera houses, and theatures.
The dancers are accompanied by a symphony orchestra that includes traditional Chinese instruments like the pipa and erhu leading the melodies.
Each dancing number in the performance requires a tight coordination between the dancers and the orchestra as well as Shen Yun’s vividly animated digital backdrop. Mr. Walsh appreciated the effort that went into that artistic direction.
“It’s really cool how they’re using all their space on stage and how they’re incorporating their visual presentation and then with the dancers involved with the live music as well.”
That involvement comes in dance pieces where the dancers themselves play instruments like drums or perform a traditional Mongolian chopstick dance where they beat out a staccato beat.
That latter is the basis of the dance Mongolian Chopsticks, the final piece in the first half of the program, and a highlight for Mr. Walsh.
“That was amazing,” he said.
“It flourishes when they’re playing very strongly, and at times it was very quiet, and it was definitely dance but was nice that they’re accompanied by live music,” said Mr. Walsh.
One of the highlights for the highly visual couple was how Shen Yun’s digital backdrop interacted with the dancers on the stage.
“It was great,” said Mr. Walsh. “It’s telling the story in a very simple way so the dances remain the focus but it’s incorporated in a seamless way.”
“They were transitioning, coming in and out of the projections as well. That was cool,” he said.
“I love it, I think it’s great,” added Ms. Chong.
Ms. Chong adored the dance Ne Zha Churns the Sea, in which the story follows a demi-god who was born as a giant meatball to a local lord and lady. He suddenly grows into a young boy and then battles an evil dragon king terrorizing the village.
“I thought that was really cute because it was great the way they introduced the animation and how the people popped out of the animation. That was a great surprise,” she said.
Heading back in for the second half of the performance, Mr. Walsh said Shen Yun had left him inspired already.
“The whole experience so far has been enlightening and makes me feel like I want to be creative myself,” he said.
With reporting by SOH Radio Network
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 Toronto until Jan. 26. For more information, visit: ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.