SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Award-winning film editor Richard Harris took some time out of his retirement with his wife, Pamela, a retired associate producer, to attend Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Granada Theatre on Saturday afternoon, March 25.
“It is gorgeous what they’ve done here,” said Mr. Harris. “The production is terrific.”
Mr. Harris is well-known for his work on major films such as “True Lies,” “The Bodyguard,” and “Terminator 2,” and he won five awards including an Oscar for editing the blockbuster hit “Titanic.”
Shen Yun, on the other hand, has become well-known as the world’s premiere classical Chinese dance and music production, with the goal of reviving China’s 5,000-year traditional culture, which was once nearly lost through decades of communist rule.
Founded in New York in 2006, Shen Yun now has five companies that tour the globe with an all-new production every year.
“It’s a great production,” said Mr. Harris. “The colors are incredible.”
“I think there’s a joy in seeing this,” agreed Mrs. Harris. “I love the costumes, I love the dancing, and I love the story. The story really comes across in each of the pieces that they do…I think the orchestra, the music, is very strong.”
A Shen Yun performance contains a series of dance vignettes, with an interactive backdrop, live orchestra, and musical soloists to complete the experience. A pair of bilingual emcees introduce the audience to the history behind each different number.
Mr. Harris especially enjoyed how the dancers appeared to leap out of the animated projected background onto the stage, and vice versa.
“I just love the dancers. They’re incredible,” he said. “The movements are very smooth. It’s like they’re on ice. They move so smoothly.”
Mr. Harris said he could see that the dancers were also enjoying themselves, since they always had a happy smile on their faces.
Mrs. Harris was very interested to hear that Shen Yun is not able to perform inside China due to the repressive communist regime.
“It opens your eyes that there’s still a lot of censorship there,” she said. “It makes us appreciate that … right now in America, we are still able to express ourselves.”
“It is very sad,” agreed Mr. Harris. “I felt the oppression with the young people.”
Both Mr. Harris, who does Tai Chi, and Mrs. Harris said they felt a connection with the spiritual nature of traditional Chinese culture portrayed in the performance.
“The compassion, truthfulness, tolerance, I think those are universal themes with any religion or any philosophy,” said Mrs. Harris.
The couple said they would definitely recommend the performance to others, saying it was a pleasant escape from everyday life.
“You’re kind of taken on a journey,” said Mrs. Harris. “You’re just brought into the story, and it’s something that is unique. I think it’s definitely one of a kind…it’s something that you can go [to] and get taken away, like going on a vacation.”