Discovering the Roots of Chinese Culture

January 26, 2014 1:01 am Last Updated: January 26, 2014 1:01 am

TORONTO—China’s ancient culture took centre stage Saturday night when Shen Yun Performing Arts brought its presentation to Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

It was a discovery that Denis Riché and his wife Alexandra Rowland found both revelatory and entertaining. 

Speaking during intermission, Ms. Rowland, a director at the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists, said the show was different from anything she’d ever seen before. She said she enjoyed the colour and spectacle of the performance and was impressed by the dancers’ skills, particularly their jumps, flips, and tumbling techniques.

“Skillful but quite different, the way they almost move as one, almost in a straight line—really enjoying it,” she said.

Mr. Riché, said the show was an interesting experience of cultural diversity.

“It’s fascinating. I like the colour, I like the symmetry, and everything,” he said. “You can see the precision in their movements,” he said.

Shen Yun was founded in 2006 on a mission to revive true traditional Chinese culture, a mission that the couple said they appreciated. China’s traditional culture has been suppressed and denatured to the point of near extinction in China after 60 years of communist rule, most notably the decadelong Cultural Revolution that began in 1966.

“They’ve obviously taken it very seriously,” said Ms. Rowland. “They really want to re-capture something that could’ve been loss through the time of cultural repression. I think there’s a feeling of taking it very seriously and being very proud of their 5,000 years of history and wanting to bring this to other audiences.”

Mr. Riché said he was glad Shen Yun stayed true to the essence of Chinese culture.

“I think it would have been very easy to take the foundation here and sort of modernize it to make it Western friendly but I think they’ve left it in this manner and I think it’s very good that they’ve done so,” he said.

He was grateful to get an “unadulterated perspective.” 

Many of Shen Yun’s dances are story based mini dramas recounting historical figures, myths and legends, as well as contemporary tales from the China today.

“I think the traditional aspects of the performance and seeing the roots of all of the more current experiences is quite fascinating,” he said.

Mr. Riché said that the performance showed the roots of Chinese culture.

“You look at the history of China, some of this stuff dates back thousands of years.”

He said he enjoyed seeing some of the myths and spiritual aspects of that culture displayed with the help of Shen Yun’s digitally projected backdrop.

“It’s nice for us to see another perspective … and a live performance helps.”

With reporting by Matthew Little

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.