REGINA, Canada—Ian Hanna, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall’s Communications Advisor, said he deeply enjoyed the unique sounds of the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra after taking in the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance at the Conexus Arts Centre on Friday night.
The music conveyed China’s heroic history, said Mr. Hanna, who previously worked as a senior radio news editor at CBC in Saskatchewan.
“I feel a sense of the history, also the range of the music, the loud part and the soft part, it’s very emotionally evocative. It connects you with nature, it connects you with the Chinese people,” he said.
The New York-based Shen Yun presents classical Chinese dance and music. The company performs classical Chinese dance as well as ethnic dances from China’s diverse regions and people, and folk dances of the majority Han ethnicity.
Many of the dances performed by Shen Yun capture scenes from China’s 5,000 year history, a rich culture that has produced legendary figures, myths, and beloved characters like the Monkey King, the subject of one of the dances that night.
“I very much enjoy the traditional stories. My son was telling me the story of the Monkey King is thousand and thousands years old, and I wasn’t aware of that, so it makes me feel good inside to hear some of the stories of the Chinese people. I know that they have such a proud and long history of accomplishment both in the musical realm and the artistic realm, and visual arts,” Mr. Hanna said.
“I think it’s very colourful, and I very much enjoy the music,” he said about the production as a whole.
Shen Yun’s unique orchestra combines classical Western with traditional Chinese instruments. Mr. Hanna said he appreciated the opportunity to hear these traditional instruments.
“It’s not often we hear live the traditional music, and the traditional percussion instruments that you can find in Chinese vernacular, so I quite enjoy that,” he said.
The original compositions played by the orchestra play an integral part in Shen Yun’s dances, many of which are story-based.
“The conflict and the love and the joy that the people feel … I can feel that through the music,” said Mr. Hanna.
“You can feel the emotions that are coming through, the tension, the dynamic tension that the people feel, and the release of that tension as well, and the love … I feel that through the music somehow.”
Mr. Hanna said the show also managed to convey cultural values, including the triumph of good over evil, and the joy of a hard day’s work.
“When we saw the monks, we saw the pure joy that sometimes comes with simple work.”
That dance, Joyful Little Monks, captures the serenity of a secluded monastery on a bright morning as apprentice monks gather to tidy up with fun and humorous results.
“Simple manual labour. The feelings of a job well done, feelings that you can do good work,” Mr. Hanna said.
“I think it’s a very important for people to come and know and respect the Chinese people,” he said, pointing out the importance of Shen Yun staging performances in Canada.
With reporting by Maple Lynne.
Shen Yun Performing Arts has three equally large companies touring the world. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will next travel to New York to perform at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center from Apr. 18 to Apr. 22.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.