Shen Yun Farewells Melbourne, Hello Canberra

April 15, 2012 Updated: April 16, 2012
Patricia Baker at Shen Yun
Patricia Baker, a former dancer and Sinophile, was happy to see Shen Yun Performing Arts in Melbourne April 15, after missing the show last year. (Julia Huang/The Epoch Times)

MELBOURNE, Australia—Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company, straight from sell-out shows in Taiwan, also stunned its Melbourne audiences over the last five days in six shows.

A great grandmother now, Patricia Baker used to dance as a young girl working in theatre.

She was especially glad to be at the Melbourne’s Regent Theatre to see Shen Yun perform in Australia’s ‘arts capital’ on Sunday afternoon, April 15.

She had been hankering to see the world’s leader of classical Chinese dance and music after missing last year’s performance.

So when Shen Yun returned—the New York-based company has been coming down-under every year since 2006—she was determined not to miss the performance.

“It was beautiful. I’d love to be able to go to Sydney and see it in Sydney too.”

China’s 5,000-year cultural history is portrayed in story-based dance, adapted from heroic legends, ethnic and folkloric traditions and contemporary stories in modern day China.

A fan of “everything Chinese,” the great grandmother was captivated by the Shen Yun dancers.

Classical Chinese dance has a complete system of dance embodying aesthetic principles with its unique dance movements, rhythms, and inner meaning, the company website espouses.

“The dance is so precise. And their feet, the little feet, you know. And it was just so beautiful. And the costumes … everything they did was so graceful. I couldn’t fault it.

“What impressed me most is the way it was so precise, and nobody fell out of line, nobody did anything wrong. It was all very good.”

Hi-tech animated backdrop scenes that interact between stage and projector screen worked a treat.

“The backdrop was a real treat because it shows you China, the Chinese background. It was just wonderful, so different.”

Ms. Baker has a family living in Shanghai and her great grandchildren are learning Chinese language and culture, so the performance Shen Yun presented was not altogether unfamiliar.

“I understood something of Shen Yun, [for example] the heavenly soldiers in the opening scene [An Era Begins]. It is so beautiful, lovely,” she said.

“All the culture of 5,000 years, I just admire them and how they actually all came through. I hate the communist idea of suppressing everybody.”

Ms. Baker was referring to China’s divinely-bestowed traditional cultural values, all but destroyed under six decades of communist rule.

“Actually, I think for the school children here, they should make a rule that they should come here and see this. So they would learn, you know. It was so wonderful.”

‘Extremely impressed’

Suzanna Gooda at Shen Yun
Suzanna Gooda was impressed by the "excellent" training of the Shen Yun Performing Arts dancers. (Julia Huang/The Epoch Times)

Also in the audience was Suzanne Gooda, a former ballerina, who performed for the National Theatre, before moving to London where she performed in musicals, including My Fair Lady.

At intermission, Ms. Gooda who now works as an accountant, expressed her experience of Shen Yun.

“Very colourful. Excellent singing,” she said. “I can see the excellent training behind it. As a chorus they’re extremely well trained. You can see that, that’s obvious. I am extremely impressed. I think it is very good.”

She also enjoyed the digital backdrops and the interplay between stage and screen.

“I like the use of the backdrop with the computer work. I think that was extremely well done and very interesting, I’d never seen that done before.”

Reporting by Julia Huang and Raiatea Tahana-Reese.

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform at the Canberra Theatre, in Canberra, April 17 and 18.

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