Many in the audience were children who tagged along with the parents to the family-friendly celebration of 5,000 years of Chinese culture and traditional arts through dance, song, and music.
Eileen Babcock, a retired businesswoman from northern British Columbia, said she found the Shen Yun dancers a “great role models for the young people” because of their physicality and dedication to their craft.
“It was nice tonight to see children with their families in the audience because I think their exposure to this type of music and the performance and the youth on stage and what they were capable of doing is really inspirational for young people today,” she said.
Many of Shen Yun’s dancers have been learning Chinese classical dance or other dance forms since they were young and have won or placed highly in dance competitions.
The dancers “are very strong, very athletic,” Ms. Babcock said.
The main type of dance portrayed in Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, which is among the most comprehensive dance forms in the world. Shen Yun dancers undergo rigorous training in difficult leaping, jumping, tumbling, and flipping techniques.
Due to the requirements of classical Chinese dance, dancers also have to perfect their postures and movements even down to their finger positions.
Shen Yun complements dances and songs with hi-tech digital-backdrops.
“Oh my god, it brought tears,” Ms. Babcock said of the colourful animated backdrops that transport audiences to various plains, mountains, and villages in China.
“It was beautiful,” she added. “And so realistic. It was like you wish it was real, that you could just go there. It was very beautiful.”
Ms. Babcock described the East meets West orchestra as “fantastic, just fantastic,” and said that the singing “touched my soul.”
Shen Yun’s music is made by a unique orchestra that melds Western string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments with Chinese instruments like the suona and the four-stringed pipa.
And the piece with the two-stringed erhu. “I thought it was very interesting that beautiful music came out of something that was so tiny,” she said. “I found it very inspiring, very nice.”
Ms. Babcock said she was saddened to learn that Shen Yun is not allowed to perform in China due to that country’s authoritarian communist regime.
“They have the freedom to be able to perform because they are from New York. [In China], they wouldn’t be able to,” she said.
Shen Yun seeks to revive divinely inspired Chinese art and culture, which has been under attack over the years through communist campaigns such as the Cultural Revolution.
Ms. Babcock said the presentation of the ancient 5,000-year culture “very touching, very beautiful.”
“I was absolutely overwhelmed with everything. It was just fantastic,” she said. “I would definitely tell anybody that I meet [to] make sure they go see it.”
Reporting by Ryan Moffatt and Mimi Li.
Shen Yun has three companies touring the world. The Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will continue at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre until Feb 5.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org