VANCOUVER, Canada—Modern technology met traditional Chinese culture in the Shen Yun Performing Arts production on Saturday afternoon at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Ray Gee, an IT systems analyst who attended the performance with teacher Sally Arbour, said he enjoyed watching China’s history come to life on stage.
“The history [stood out], and what they’re portraying about the history. I thought that was actually really nice,” he said.
As an IT professional, Mr. Gee enjoyed seeing ancient Chinese landscapes and characters play out on the dance company’s trademark digital, moving backdrops.
“That was pretty interesting. The way they had the characters come out of the screen and then pop up in the back of the stage—I thought that was good,” he said.
New York-based Shen Yun has three companies currently touring the world, with the ambitious mission of reviving 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through the medium of classical Chinese dance.
Ms. Arbour said she came to the show to see its legendary costumes.
“They were wonderful … the costumes were so colourful, and they were just really pretty,” she said.
“It was great.”
One of her favourite moments was a dance called Snowflakes Welcoming Spring, which honours the eternal change of the seasons.
In this piece the dancers cheerfully twirl sparkling handkerchiefs, reminiscent of a snowy winter scene that eventually gives way to the bright birth of spring.
Mr. Gee also enjoyed this dance, saying the female performers captured the mood perfectly with their grace and femininity.
“It was appropriate that the women were doing it—it was a little bit more elegant that way—the way they were … tossing [the handkerchiefs] to each other was pretty spectacular,” he said.
Mr. Gee noted that classical Chinese dance was different than any other style he had ever seen. He was impressed with the range and expressivity of the style.
“[Classical Chinese dance] is a little bit more expressive, more traditional,” he said.
“The gestures and everything are very traditional in Chinese. … Their way of being expressive is by using all the motions of the hands [and body].”
Classical Chinese dance has a history of thousands of years and is known for being one of the most expressive—and technically difficult—dance forms in the world.
According to the Shen Yun website, classical Chinese dance was passed down continuously within the imperial palace and ancient Chinese theatre and opera.
Soaking up wisdom from every era and dynasty, it has become a complete system of dance capable of expressing profound inner meaning through its three main components of bearing, form, and technical skill.
Ms. Arbour was impressed to learn that acrobatics and other forms of dance and athletics originated from classical Chinese dance, and were influenced by real-life situations such as battle moves in war.
“We thought it was great,” she said.
Reporting by Ryan Moffat and Justina Wheale
Shen Yun has three companies touring the world. The Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will continue at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre until Feb 5.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.