CINCINNATI, Ohio—Photographer Maurice Burns loves to dance. So when he saw Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring company in Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center for the Arts, he was blown away.
“I really enjoyed it. It’s very informative,” Mr. Burns said at intermission on Feb. 4
Over the course of his career, Mr. Burns has worked with many kinds of dancers: ballet, jazz, urban hip hop and Latin.
He described a holistic quality in Chinese classical dance. He said, “I like the way the dancers actually make sure that they have expression. Usually in ballet, a lot of times it’s expressionless, it’s all about the dance. It’s not about the whole person. I really enjoyed the fact that this is all encompassing. Between the dance, expression and emotion that you’re supposed to feel, that you can also dance that, and experience that same emotion that you have.”
According to the 2012 program, the word ‘”Yun” refers to the overall manner of a dancer, a dancer’s style, and the meaning behind his or her movements.”
Mr. Burns said he was surprised to learn that Shen Yun is based in New York, saying that was “an interesting concept” and “actually the music is exceptional.”
Among Shen Yun’s many features that help convey 5,000 years of Chinese culture for today’s audiences to enjoy, is the Shen Yun Orchestra, playing a mix of Eastern and Western instruments in original compositions.
As a photographer who is aware of the lighting effects, the artist inside prevailed. “I like the transitions, the changes between the lights, the music, the harmony. I’m not only visual, an audio person too. The colors mix very well,” Mr. Burns said.
He said he also thought the interactions between the digital backdrops and the choreography, and how the production moved seamlessly from scene to scene, was a unique, advanced innovation.
Shen Yun is Enterprising and Innovative
“I guess the best word I could use is ‘innovative, enterprising.’ I’ve never seen it done before, as far as the visual aesthetics of it. I’ve seen nothing to compare with this so far and I’ve see a lot of dance.”
Mr. Burns said he understood and appreciated the dances that described resistance to human rights abuses in modern China.
“I’m very comfortable,” he said. “I like the way it’s being presented. I know that it could be a lot deeper, there is a lot more to that we’re not being shown, but for our delicate palates I think it’s very appropriate.”
Shen Yun has at its core a mission to revive Chinese civilization, which is believed to be a divinely imparted heritage established 5,000 years ago. The culture was nearly destroyed during six decades of communist rule.
“The fact that the Chinese tradition holds firm to the belief that we’re expressing here, right there [on stage], is just a great expression of how cultures, civilizations, societies, expound from their religion to their everyday living,” he said. “Chinese cosmology, in fact, is replete with hundreds of deities, Buddhas, and Taoist immortals who play different roles and color the canon of Chinese history with thousands of rich stories,” according to the 2012 program.
“I do like the incorporation of [theatre] just not being the music and the harmony, but the dance, the performance.”
Reporting by Charlie Lu and Raiatea Tahana-Reese.