As Vancouver prepares to welcome Shen Yun Performing Arts back to Queen Elizabeth Theatre this weekend, notable dignitaries from the Lower Mainland have shared their well wishes with the renowned touring group.
The wealth of greetings is reflective of Vancouver’s appreciation of a multicultural society in which ethnic groups regularly showcase the richness of their individual cultures through artistic mediums.
Regarded as the gateway to the East, Vancouver has a long history of being a proponent of Chinese culture. From its vibrant Chinatown to its annual Lunar New Year celebrations, Vancouver’s large Chinese population has made an indelible impact on the city.
Shen Yun has come to be recognized as the world’s foremost ambassadors of traditional Chinese culture in its purest sense, presenting the Middle Kingdom’s cultural heritage in a stage production that includes over 100 performers, a live orchestra, and a state-of-the-art digital backdrop. Combined, these elements succeed in presenting ancient traditions in a modern format.
The New York-based group has been playing in Vancouver annually since 2007, and the anticipation for their return has grown exponentially, with committed fans coming back each year to take in the all-new lineup.
“I am honoured to have this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to Shen Yun Performing Arts and to welcome you back to Vancouver,” Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, wrote in his greeting letter.
“Shen Yun’s artists bring depth, professionalism, and energy to every performance on every stage.”
The calibre of the performers was also noted by Hon. Kerry-Lynne Findlay, MP for Delta-Richmond East and the Minister of National Revenue, who wrote, “A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers.”
Classical Chinese dance, the hallmark of Shen Yun’s performances, has a history of 5,000 years, making it one of the longest transmitted art forms in the world and by the same token one of China’s longest cultural legacies.
Shen Yun has a reputation for producing highly skilled classical Chinese dancers—dancers who have become modern ambassadors for traditional Chinese culture.
China’s cultural identity has undergone major changes over the past century, many not for the better. Communism and its atheist ideals largely squelched the country’s rich historical traditions—traditions formed over 5,000 years that are steeped with spiritual values and ideals.
Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the true traditional culture that has been all but destroyed by destructive Chinese Communist Party campaigns. This dedication to cultural preservation is one of the many reasons the group’s popularity has soared in recent years. Particularly in Vancouver, the show has become a yearly tradition for many, one that coincides with the Lunar New Year.
Embracing Cultural Diversity
Findlay called Shen Yun’s performance “another wonderful opportunity to embrace cultural diversity in our community.”
This sentiment was echoed by Don Davies, MP for Vancouver Kingsway, who thanked the performers for their “dedication in promoting Chinese culture and encouraging participation in a multicultural exchange.”
“It is because of the important work of organizations like yours that we can build a stronger, fairer, and more inclusive society,” he wrote.
Vancouver is a multicultural city with a pool of multicultural talent. Many Chinese-Canadians have expressed great admiration for Shen Yun as well as a sense of pride in the artistic treasures of their cultural legacy so clearly presented onstage in a city they now call home.
“The Lunar New Year in Vancouver is always a time of great festivities and celebration,” Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson said in his greeting.
“It is important to maintain and nourish our various cultural heritages and artistic talents so that all Vancouverites may learn about the many cultures in our city.”
In his greeting, Mayor of New Westminster Jonathan Coté wrote, “We owe much of our success through the years to the contributions of Chinese Canadians.”
“The citizens of New Westminster are very proud of their city and optimistic about the future, a sense of optimism, and community pride that I know is highlighted each year during Shen Yun season.”
‘Great artistry, through and through’
The group just finished a round of dates in Eastern Canada where they performed to capacity crowds in some of the country’s finest venues.
Veteran dance teacher Yvon Quintal, who has been running the award-winning Yvon Quintal Centre for Dance for over three decades, saw Shen Yun at Montreal’s Place des Arts on Jan. 11 and was highly impressed.
“A lot of magic, the way they interpret, the way the choreography is done. I think it’s very very professional and I enjoy it a lot. Very creative,” he said, adding that the show was “very well synchronized with a lot of artistic action and emotion.”
Luisa Sassano, who also saw the show in Montreal, agreed. Sassano is executive director of le Groupe Merveilles and manages Extravadanza Productions, dance studios offering instruction in ballet, jazz, musical theatre, modern dance, and more.
“It was inspirational—inspirational. … The lines, the formation; it was clean, it was precise. It was just outstanding—outstanding,” she said. “It was great artistry, through and through.”
Shen Yun will play four shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Jan. 16-18. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.