Former Ballerina Describes Shen Yun Dancers: ‘Like they were flying’

March 4, 2012 Updated: August 14, 2015

TAMPA, Fla.—After Saturday evening’s sold-out performance at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the New York-based company, Shen Yun Performing Arts, performed twice more in front of sold-out audiences on Sunday, March 4, in downtown Tampa.

The Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will next perform in Memphis, sharing classical Chinese Dance—grounded in 5,000 years of divinely inspired culture—with Tennesseans at the world-class Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

Among Tampa theatergoers, Shen Yun’s classical Chinese dance received high reviews. One example came from a former ballet dancer, Carol Longenberger, who described the Shen Yun dancers as having “no weight at all—like they were flying.”

Ms. Longenberger’s resume includes 12 years of ballet, so she could appreciate what was behind Shen Yun dancers’ technical abilities.

“They just aren’t trained like in a classical ballet, those movements. This has gymnastics and aerobatics, and ballet,” she said.

Classical Chinese dance is comprised of three main aspects: bearing, form, and technical skill. The Shen Yun website states, “Other than complete training in the fundamentals, it also entails systematic training in movements and postures, as well as very difficult jumping and tumbling techniques. And so, alongside ballet, classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world.”

Ms. Longenberger said she became quite emotional during the performance: “I’m so happy I had tears.”

‘It’s beautiful’

Jennifer Laroda, a hair salon owner, was another theatergoer impressed with Shen Yun’s classical Chinese dance. She explained how, after watching the performance, she realized how other forms of dance seem to imitate classical Chinese dance.

“It seems like it is the basis for all the systems. And it’s beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she said.

The Shen Yun website states that the technical skills, along with bearing and form make classical Chinese dance able to “transcend ethnic, cultural, and even linguistic barriers, taking this well-established Chinese culture and presenting its essence to the world.”

Ms. Laroda said, “I can see where we have imitated the Chinese through the years. It’s been imitated in ballet, in the street dance, and all of it—I see that.”

She mentioned that she thought it was great that China had a 5,000-year history, saying, “I think that we just don’t take the time to appreciate it, but we are related to all of it.”

Reporting by Sally Sun and Adam Miller.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. After the Tampa engagement, Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will next perform in Memphis, Tenn.

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