Shen Yun Captures the Absolutely Distinctive Chinese Flavor

February 14, 2016 10:10 pm Last Updated: February 15, 2016 1:30 am

ROSEMONT, Ill.—Irena Pona-Uszpolewicz feels there is something so undeniably unique in the way Chinese dancers move, so characteristic of the people that they move “differently from all the other people in the world because they kind of swim and flow,” she said.

This absolutely distinctive Chinese expression is what she saw epitomized by Shen Yun Performing Arts: “We go many times to different performances, but Chinese style, habit, tradition—I don’t know what is it. They are born with it, I guess, and with training, and longer the performing, they become more and more fluent and more and more unusual.”

Shen Yun is trying to save that unique, traditional Chinese performance style and bring it to the world. Since 2006, when Chinese artists came together to create Shen Yun in New York, the company has aimed to reproduce authentic Chinese arts in every way possible.

The classical Chinese dance, which developed over centuries and was imbued with distinct flavor of each Chinese dynasty, is at the heart of Shen Yun. And the stories the dance tells are culled from the 5,000 years of China’s legends, classical literature, and history from its beginnings to the present.

“It was just tremendous,” Ms. Pona-Uszpolewicz said. She attended the Valentine’s Day performance at the Rosemont Theatre with Irena Cora and Richard, (who said that his last name was difficult to pronounce and just as difficult to spell).

“Let me say something,” Richard, a production manager, said. “Every performance I’ve gone to, like opera, like a concert, like everything, like the Beatles, even the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, I went to sleep—and here not.”

He explained that every moment was interesting. It never stopped; everything was constantly changing.

Shen Yun’s dancers change their costumes for every one of the 17 dances. The dances alternate between folk dances and classical Chinese dance. Each classical Chinese dance tells a different story and these range from romantic ones to stories of warriors, to those of heavenly maidens.

Within each folk dance, the eye first follows groups of dancers moving as one, and then several will move apart in separately choreographed set of steps, and then often a solo dancer may separate for a while before joining a small group or the whole. The eye never has a chance to feel bored.

Ms. Pona-Uszpolewicz felt the digitally animated backdrops added immeasurably to the performance to create what she called “a spiritual impression. The idea of that is just unbelievable. The personification of the spirits flowing from the moon or heaven, and all of a sudden they smoothly appear on the stage. It’s just … breathless. Unbelievable,” she said.

And Ms. Cora thought the colors of the costumes and backdrops were beautifully bright and very happy.

“It’s very unique; we’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.

In touching on the spiritual aspects of the stories, Ms. Pona-Uszpolewicz said that the showing the struggle of good against evil, from the very beginning of the world until now,” is apt in that it’s ever present and very worthwhile to present.

“And will be. As long as human beings are on the earth, there will always be a problem,” Ms. Cora agreed.

Reporting by Maggie Xie and Sharon Kilarski

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.

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.