Retired Law Professor: Shen Yun ‘Very sophisticated, true art’

March 11, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS—Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company held its final performance in Minneapolis on March 11. The New York-based company’s mission is to revive the thousands of years of divinely-inspired Chinese traditional culture and bring it to the people of the world.

Kathleen O’Donovan and Peter Kahn were in the audience at the Orpheum Theatre. “It was a great afternoon,” said Dr. O’Donovan. They were both intrigued by the classical Chinese dance.

Kathleen O’Donovan has a Ph.D. in foreign language instruction, and worked as program leader with the University of Minnesota Center for Teaching and Learning. Peter Kahn is a retired law professor from the University of Minnesota and an attorney.

Dr. O’Donovan gave the performance a rave review, saying: “I thought it was wonderful. I didn’t know really what to expect … there was information presented as well as a lot of entertainment.

“I learned a lot and I enjoyed myself while learning. It was beautiful. I thought the music was beautiful, the costumes were beautiful.”

She also liked the role of the two bilingual presenters who lead the audience from piece to piece, explaining Chinese culture and history.

Dr. O’Donovan said she had assumed that a lot of the movements in the dance were acrobatic, but then learned from the emcees that the movements are a part of classical Chinese dance. That was something new for her she said, and she appreciated learning that.

She also enjoyed the introduction of the different classical instruments in the Shen Yun Orchestra, which combines classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments. She said that she learned a lot there too. “So I thought it was a good combination, good balance of entertainment and learning. It’s an opportunity for people truly to learn a lot about the culture in a way that is very palatable and very pleasing,” she said.

Mr. Kahn enjoyed the precision of the dancers. He said: “Precision, there was absolute precision in everything … This was absolute, beautiful, flowing precision. It looked like it was effortless.

“I love the flowing costumes; everything is flowing, the color coordination … and the elevations, the leaps were effortless, flowing, graceful. I just think this is a … flowing, fluid, beautiful type of dance.”

Mr. Kahn spoke of the choreography in the female dances: “There’s intricate delicacy that is here, the way the women dance, come on stage in the flowing gowns with the delicate, intricate, very precise foot movements … all in unison, all tremendously difficult, all delicate.

“I thought that was fascinating; the feet were like fairies dancing, all in unison, all precise, fascinating.

“It’s true art, it’s very sophisticated, true art. Especially the background of the integrated graphics of the production,” he added.

Dr. O’Donovan commented on the thread of spirituality that she noticed in the performance. She said: “I taught at the University and a lot of my students were from China,” so she had learned a little about Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese meditation practice that is currently being persecuted in China. “So I came with that information, I did know a lot about the spiritual aspect of it. It was beautiful.”

Reporting by Valerie Avore and Anna Stute.

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will be at Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University in Indianapolis for two performances, March 13 and 14.

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