SAN FRANCISCO—World’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company Shen Yun Performing Arts drew praise from spectators at the War Memorial Opera House on Jan. 8.
“I think it’s very beautiful, I love all the tumbling and all sorts,” said Chandra Kramer, a former gymnast. She saw the New York-based company with her mother, jeweler-in-training, Cindy Cryderm.
“I didn’t know that gymnastics actually originated from Chinese dance,” Ms. Kramer said. “Because I’m an acrobat myself, I found that to be really interesting, and the dance is just very amazing … beyond expectation.”
Ms. Kramer said she was a gymnast for many years and used to perform as well, but now she coaches gymnastics.
According to Shen Yun’s website, many of the techniques we see in gymnastics today in fact have been part of classical Chinese dance for thousands of years.
“What few people realize is that these gravity-defying techniques introduced to gymnastics over the last decades have, in classical Chinese dance, a history of thousands of years,” says the website.
Indeed, when audience members see our dancers…fly across the stage, they often say things like: ‘I loved the acrobatics,’ or ‘the flexibility reminded me of gymnastics.’ But these moves come from neither gymnastics nor acrobatics. They actually all originate from classical Chinese dance.”
“It’s really awesome,” Ms. Kramer said, referring to classical Chinese dance.
“The tumbling is the same, but it’s a lot more cultural and I like that too because you’re also learning about the history at the same time.”
Shen Yun features classical Chinese dance, as well as Chinese folk and ethnic dance, presented in the form of mini-dramas depicting classical tales and legends as well as stories based in modern times.
Animated digital backdrops lift the stage transporting audiences to different realms, which Ms. Kramer said was “very creative!”
Her mother agreed. “I like that, kind of pulls it all together,” Ms. Cryderm said.
“I thought it was just beautiful, I really like all the colors and outfits, and it’s just lovely.”
Ms. Kramer said she liked how the English subtitles were projected onto the backdrop screen so the audience could read the words of the songs sung by the Shen Yun vocalists. She particularly enjoyed the performance of the soprano.
“I really enjoyed that, and I liked hearing the spiritual side of what she had to say. I agree with a lot of things that she was singing. It’s nice to be able to communicate something like that and be on the same level.”
Spirituality is at the heart of a Shen Yun performance, according to the website.
“Throughout history almost every culture looked toward the divine for inspiration. Art was meant to uplift, bringing joy to both the people who created and experienced it. It is this principle that drives Shen Yun performers and their art,” the website says.
Ms. Kramer said she would tell her friends the Shen Yun production was “breathtaking.”
Reporting by Gary Wang and Raiatea Tahana-Reese