Scenic Painter for Broadway Shows Praises Shen Yun’s Design, Colors

January 18, 2014 7:48 pm Last Updated: January 19, 2014 2:21 am

NEW YORK—Jenna Lyons, who paints scenes for Broadway shows, was amazed by the color coordination and design of Shen Yun Performing Arts at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater on Saturday. 

The beauty caught her eye when she saw the advertisements. Shen Yun is “very vibrant, beautiful,” Ms. Lyons said, adding that it was a moving that conveyed a real appreciation of artwork and history. 

Her father, Kevin Lyons, who was in the radio and television business before retiring, also attended the performance. He was impressed with the synchronization of the dancers, and the use of silk, as well as props, in some of the dances.

Shen Yun, a New York-based company, brings 5,000 years of Chinese culture to the stage in story-based dances. Some dances, such as Mongolian Chopsticks, include props, with which the dancers tap out the rhythm using bunches of chopsticks. Some dances include long, flowing, silk sleeves that float and twirl with the dancers. 

Ms. Lyons praised their fluidity. The world’s best classical Chinese dancers are part of Shen Yun, reviving this ancient dance form. 

The company’s website describes classical Chinese dance: “Built on traditional aesthetics, it was once passed down among the people, in imperial courts, and through ancient plays. Over thousands of years, it was constantly refined, eventually developing into the vast and distinctly Chinese dance form we know today.”

Mr. Lyons was surprised to learn that gymnastics adopted its techniques and flips from classical Chinese dance. He saw the similarities and initially thought the Chinese dance must have been influenced by gymnastics, though it is actually the other way around. 

“It was moving,” said Ms. Lyons of the stories, which show ancient legends, historical events, and also some scenes from contemporary China. Shen Yun also presents heavenly scenes, as China’s culture is believed to be divinely inspired. 

The pair noted that Shen Yun’s design is unique in that a digital backdrop sets the scene, opening the stage to vast expanses of the Chinese countryside, to the royal courts of yore, or to the heavens above. 

Shen Yun cannot be seen in China today, though it tours the world reviving Chinese culture. The company’s website explains: “Over its past 60 years of rule, the communist regime has treated traditional Chinese values—centered on the idea of harmony between heaven and earth—as a threat to its existence. And in its systematic campaigns like the Cultural Revolution, it has uprooted traditional beliefs and destroyed ancient treasures.”

Mr. Lyons said he feels the culture presented by Shen Yun will prevail: “It’s going to outlast these guys.”

Mr. and Ms. Lyons said they are happy to see the culture revived. They also enjoyed the unique way in which Shen Yun adds a Western touch to the Eastern music—the orchestra includes both classical Western and Chinese instruments.

Reporting by Catherine Yang and Tara MacIsaac

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.

The 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.