Shen Yun ‘Exhilarating’ for Couple

April 1, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Sue and Jene Tonkinson attend Shen Yun Performing Arts
Sue and Jene Tonkinson attend Shen Yun Performing Arts in Washington. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—The Kennedy Center Opera House was alive with bright colors and cultural values passed down from antiquity, as Shen Yun Performing Arts played on Saturday evening, March 31.

Jene Tonkinson, a retired technical writer for IBM, called the performance “grand” and lauded its extensive use of colors. After attending the performance with his wife, he said the interplay between the performers and Shen Yun’s digital backdrop “was very fascinating.”

Moving scenery is imposed on the backdrop for each piece in the performance. The backdrop shows brightly colored scenes from ancient China, pastoral landscapes, mountaintops, and others.

“The beautiful colors of those garments that the dancers were wearing … was just gorgeous,” he added. “It was exhilarating; it really was.”

Shen Yun uses a wide variety of costuming that are all hand-made and are inspired from China’s various dynasties and ethnic groups, the company’s website says.

“I think the color of those gowns … stood out [for] me, and the motion” of the dancers definitely caught his eye, Mr. Tonkinson said, and added that the dance is “nothing I’ve ever experienced before.”

While colorful backdrops and costumes are a staple of Shen Yun, the dance company’s main attraction is classical Chinese dance—a system the company says is among the most comprehensive in the world.

The company draws much of its inspiration from the 5,000-year-old culture of China and shows its legends and stories, the website states.

“It was very clear. You could see the humor, you could see the fighting, you could see the anger … it jumped out at you; it was very clear what was going on in those dances,” Mr. Tonkinson noted.

However, much of China’s traditional culture and arts were nearly destroyed under six decades of communist rule, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, which ended in 1976, according to the company’s website.

“I got that the Chinese culture is beautiful, it really is, and … it’s a shame it’s being suppressed,” Mr. Tonkinson added.

The performance also includes an orchestra that joins together Western and Chinese musical traditions, the company says.

“It was an exhilarating evening. I was tired when I got here because [he and his wife] were working in the garden all day, but I feel great now,” Mr. Tonkinson said.

Reporting by NTD Television 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 next perform in Madison, Wisconsin, April 4-5.

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