WATERBURY, Conn.—A perfectly executed backward flip, a graceful kick and extension of the leg—many dance movements in classical Chinese dance evoke a sense of the martial arts, though they also seem clearly different.
At the Palace Theater on Feb. 14, marital artists Joel White and Micaela Orpheus marveled at the incredible precision and dedication to craft of Shen Yun Performing Arts’s dancers.
“Not that the martial arts aren’t artistic, but they’re different. They had different purposes,” Mr. White explained.
New York-based Shen Yun’s website similarly explains this difference. Classical Chinese dance actually developed alongside martial arts over the millennia, spawned from the same roots and developed over time for very different purposes, according to Shen Yun. Whereas martial arts is dictated by practicality, classical Chinese dance has aesthetic intentions; a performing art form used to entertain.
Thus the artistry was particularly enjoyable for Mr. White, a police officer and owner of a karate school, and Ms. Orpheus, a high school English teacher who is a student of the school, along with her children.
“It was just stunning. When I watched an individual person they were perfect, and when I pulled back and watched the whole thing, it was masterful,” said Ms. Orpheus, who had trained in dance as well. “So to me that spoke of the culture in that there was such dedication to their craft that I was really impressed with it.”
Plus the performance, which draws from 5,000 years of China’s divinely inspired civilization, brought to life stories from legends and mythology that Ms. Orpheus was familiar with.
One of these stories was of the Monkey King, a character from the novel “Journey to the West.” The magical monkey takes a trip to the Dragon King’s undersea kingdom in the dynamic dance, and wields an array of weapons including two types of spears, a large broadsword, and a staff—but all with the grace and aestheticism consistent to the classical Chinese dance form.
Mr. White said he had several favorite dances, and that was one of them. The most striking part of that dance for him, however, was actually a moment where the undersea fairies spun with flowing, gossamer-light skirts. “It was just beautiful to watch,” he said. “We had a great time, it was a great way to spend Valentine’s Day.”
Reporting by Gary Du and Catherine Yang
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.