English National Opera Trustee: Shen Yun is ‘not like anything else you have ever seen’

April 14, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Anthony Lilley OBE, Trustee of English National Opera
Anthony Lilley OBE, Trustee of English National Opera, attends Shen Yun Performing Arts at London Coliseum. (Courtesy of NTD Television)

LONDON—Being a BAFTA-winner and board member of the English National Opera means performing arts runs in the veins. And for Anthony Lilley OBE, Saturday afternoon’s performance of Shen Yun was a powerful experience.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts brought its colourful classical Chinese dance to a packed London Coliseum auditorium—the home of English National Opera.

Mr. Lilley, who is also a Royal Television Society and Peabody Award winning interactive media producer, attended the show with his wife, Ruth, and children Megan Jane and Tom.

He was impressed by the skills of the dancers and the excitement they create in the audience. “I think the athletic way in which the men dance is amazing,” he said, praising “the incredible synchronised nature of the movement” and “the great drama of it”.

His wife, Ruth, was equally enthusiastic: “It’s just spectacular, it’s a real spectacle and it’s fantastic to watch,” she said. “The opening is wonderful, it really catches your attention and just draws you in straight away.”

Five-year-old Megan Jane said she especially liked the dance How the Monkey King Came to Be, which features a key scene from the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. “I liked it when he was in the tree grabbing all the peaches,” she said.

Mr. Lilley said that Shen Yun had held the attention of both their children. “We had two very small children who were fascinated and raptured by it all,” he said.

“Lots of the stories are very clear and eternal, stories everybody recognises—struggles and differences between people, and even my daughter who is only five, she could see good people and evil people, and a show that can do that is very powerful.”

He said he would remember the beautiful opening of the second act, which features flower fairies emerging as if from clouds.

He went on to say that Shen Yun Performing Arts is doing a wonderful job of introducing Chinese culture to Western people. “I think it’s a very exciting, very stimulating experience,” he said.

Mr. Lilley works in China and had just returned from a trip to Beijing and Shanghai. “It’s wonderful to see Chinese dance here in London,” he said. “It’s not like anything else you have ever seen.”

Reporting by NTD Television, Mary Mann, and John Smithies.

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 International Company is performing at the London Coliseum until April 15.

For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org