MONTREAL, Canada—China was a land of divinely inspired culture, rich with myths, legends, and bygone heroes celebrated in art.
It’s a rich repertoire on which to draw and on Wednesday night, Jan. 7, one Montreal storyteller saw what it could give birth to when she attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at Place des Arts.
“It’s a very colourful show, the dancers are excellent,” said Marie Villeneuve.
“It’s an incredible way to teach the culture to people who don’t know much about Chinese culture,” she said.
Ms. Villeneuve is an author, composer, performer, and most recently, a publisher. She began as a singer/songwriter and then joined a theatre company. It was there that she found her favourite audience—children. She founded Quebec’s first camp specializing in theatrical creation and circus arts.
A grandmother now, she started publishing children’s books and in 2011 founded her own publishing house, Les Éditions Mère-Grand (Grandmother Publishing House).
She said Shen Yun was a great performance to bring children to. Shen Yun is the world’s premiere classical Chinese dance company. Some of the dances are mini-dramas based on Chinese history, legends, and literary classics like the book “Journey to the West,” about a monk on a quest for Buddhist scriptures who is protected by the magical Monkey King.
“I had already heard of the Monkey King, but to see the way they set him on stage. It was delightful. It was visually a superb performance, and yes, one to see again,” said Ms. Villeneuve.
She said her experience working with children has taught her that taking an entertaining approach is the best way to teach them. While Shen Yun is not a children’s performance per se, she said it worked very well.
“There are beautiful legends,” she said. “The show itself is very beautiful. I also loved the music,” she said.
Shen Yun tours with a symphony orchestra unique in the world for including traditional Chinese instruments leading the melodies over a traditional Western orchestra.
Ms. Villeneuve noted with enthusiasm the two-stringed erhu, sometimes known as the Chinese violin. It’s an instrument known for its hauntingly beautiful sound and wide emotional range.
“I found that very beautiful,” she said of an erhu solo in the second half.
With her that night was Jean-Marc Lavigueur, a retired pharmacist. He heartily agreed.
“I found the dancers superb,” he said.
“The jumps were truly extraordinary. It’s a performance we’ll surely come back to see.”
Classical Chinese dance includes technically demanding jumping and tumbling techniques, movements that were later borrowed by gymnastics and acrobatics but actually originate in Chinese dance.
“It was very good. It showed us a section of Chinese culture. … The dancers were magnificent, the colours, the costumes, all of that,” said Ms. Villeneuve.
“The costumes were also superb and the colour blue showed up a lot. It was truly beautiful,” said Mr. Lavigueur.
With reporting by Nathalie Dieul
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. 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.