SYDNEY—Donna Haigh, an office manager, and her two daughters, Maggie, who is studying a Bachelor of Performance at the University of Wollongong, and Caitlyn, who once was a model and is now working for local government, drove from Kiama, a two-hour drive from Sydney.
They had driven all that way to see Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company present China’s authentic 5,000-year-old cultural heritage on Saturday afternoon, May 5.
“The show is delightful. I’m sitting there smiling, it’s just beautiful. The costumes are beautiful,” Mrs. Haigh said.
Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the true traditional culture of China. Many of the dance legends reflect the rich and diverse cultural landscape of ancient China, and they also tell stories of contemporary life in China.
Mrs. Haigh was struck by the dance The Choice, a dance set in modern-day China that looks at repression of faith and belief, and the persecution of the traditional spiritual discipline of Falun Gong.
According to the program book, the dance tells the story of two friends who part ways after college. Police recruit the young man. The young lady begins to practice Falun Dafa, following the principles of Truth Compassion and Tolerance. The practice becomes outlawed in China. “When followers protest on Tiananmen Square, they are brutally beaten by police.” The young man faces a choice.
“I must say I enjoyed The Choice. It made me think about what is actually happening in China. … it was very emotional,” she said.
“You could tell from that the people are being persecuted and if you stand up together you can stop it, like they did in the story.”
Another highlight for Mrs. Haigh was the expressiveness of the performers. “People’s faces are just beautiful. They are so happy, very smiling, lovely faces. It’s just beautiful.”
She enjoyed the piece How the Monkey King Came To Be and how the dancers were interacting with the animated digital backdrop. She said of the backdrop: “I haven’t seen very much of that and it is very unique. I love the Monkey, the Monkey dance jumping from the screen onto the stage. It is very modern, it’s wonderful.”
The three vocalists in Shen Yun are well-received Chinese singers who use the bel canto technique, according to the company’s website. Mrs. Haigh enjoyed the tenors and the soprano saying their voices “were beautiful, but the male, his voice, it made me get goosebumps.”
Daughter Maggie who studies drama and the arts, admired the dancers. She said she particularly enjoyed Lotus Leaves in which the lotus maidens, delicate yet playful, are at their ease when dancing atop the waters, describes the program book.
Like her mother, she also enjoyed How the Monkey King Came To Be, “how he would be on the screen and then he’d come out onto the stage.
“The show was amazing,” she said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Anna Stute.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre through May 6.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org