Shen Yun a ‘Great Narration’ of Chinese Culture

April 20, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Mahera Khanshab and Taha Khanshab attend Shen Yun
Mahera Khanshab and Taha Khanshab attend Shen Yun Performing Arts at New York's David H. Koch Theater on Friday. (Tara MacIsaac/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Shen Yun Performing Arts left New Yorkers in amazement as it opened its third performance at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater on Friday.

Shen Yun’s colorful dances and costumes impressed Mahera Khanshab, who works in advertising.

“Overall it’s a very colorful display; it’s [also] a great narration,” she said, referring to two Masters of Ceremonies who speak both English and Chinese to inform the audience of what will happen in the next dance.

“The narration is also very important and helps,” she said. “The viewer gets a better sense of the time period and exactly the event we’re about to see.”

With classical Chinese dance at its nucleus, Shen Yun tells a wide array of stories and legends that are rooted in China’s 5,000-year-old civilization, the company says on its website, which adds that “a performance by Shen Yun is a presentation of traditional Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, and the virtues distilled from the five millennia of Chinese civilization.”

“It’s great to be able to see all this from 5,000 years ago just coming to light to in a really [active] and colorful way,” Ms. Khanshab noted.

Shen Yun tells these stories from China to restore its culture, one that was nearly lost under decades of communist rule, the company’s website says. In the performance, “sophisticated dance techniques, an orchestra joining instruments East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop,” are harmonized on stage.

“This is Shen Yun at first glance,” explains the company’s website. “But digging deeper, one discovers a sea of traditional Chinese culture. Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience. Originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, these ideals are the essence of traditional Chinese culture.”

“It’s interesting; it’s very interesting … it’s nice to learn more about it tonight,” Ms. Khanshab said. Her whole family was watching Shen Yun in Chicago on Friday evening; Shen Yun has three equally large dance companies— including orchestras—simultaneously touring the world.

Classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive systems in the world, having soaked up “profound wisdom from every era and dynasty,” according Shen Yun’s website.

“I thought the men’s dances were very entertaining with their gymnastic ability and the way they incorporate dance and culture … that part was very interesting from a masculine perspective,” said Taha Khanshab, a civil engineer who accompanied his wife to the performance

The dancers are adorned with brilliantly colored costumes, which the company says is inspired from “countless designs of traditional attire, ranging from those of emperors, ministers, and generals to the everyday clothing of the common people,” are a hallmark of Shen Yun’s performance.

Ms. Khanshab was “wowed by the outfits” and was impressed with “nimble [the performers] are in their dancing.”

Reporting by Tara MacIsaac and Jack Phillips.

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center through April 22.

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