ESCONDIDO, Calif.—From the first act, Descending to the World, when a host of divine beings come down to the world to start China’s divinely inspired culture, retired investment broker David Belnap enjoyed Shen Yun Performing Arts.
“The music and the dance was great,” he said after seeing the performance at the California Center for the Arts.
New York-based Shen Yun has as its mission reviving the 5,000 year old Chinese culture, one that was both nearly destroyed by more than 60 years of communist rule, according to the company’s website.
Mr. Belnap said, “that we were all kings, before we came here.”
He was referring to the song “Heavenly Secret,” which said, “Most people of the world were kings in the heavens.”
“It was during the Tang Dynasty (618–907) that the three religions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism reached their peak during an era often seen as the pinnacle of Chinese civilization,” states the website. “Under the influence of these faiths, Chinese culture has spawned a rich and profound system of values.”
At the core of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, an ancient art form; the dancers are adorned with handmade costumes and accompanied by an orchestra and digital backdrops.
“I danced a little bit myself in international folk dancing, and most of the dances I danced were European and also American folk dancing,” said Mr. Belnap, describing dance as a hobby. “But this color, and the smoothness of the color, adds to the smoothness of their positions and jumps, and it’s just gorgeous.”
Ernie Cowan, VP of government affairs at the North San Diego County Association of Realtors, also attended the performance.
“The colors, the dance, it’s just beautiful; it’s mesmerizing,” Mr. Cowan said. “The talent and the synchronization, its beautiful, just beautiful.”
Shen Yun’s orchestra is renowned as being the first to successfully blend the typically disparate sounds of East and West. The base is a Western philharmonic orchestra while traditional Chinese instruments lead the melodies.
“The Chinese instruments include the erhu, dizi, pipa, and suona,” says Shen Yun’s website. “All Chinese instruments are classified by their material construction into eight categories: jin (metal), shi (stone), tu(clay), ge (hide), si (silk), mu (wood), bao (gourd), and zhu (bamboo). Collectively, these eight classifications are known as the ba yin, or ‘the eight sounds.’ All materials used to make these instruments originate from nature, and the significance and symbolism of each is closely tied to its natural origin.”
Mr. Cowan enjoyed the music, as well as the interaction between the four main elements of the performance.
“The use of graphics and multimedia, blending with the dancers, was just miraculous,” he said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Jane Lin and Zack Stieber.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will be heading to Escondido for performances at the California Center for the Arts from Dec. 28 to 31.
New York-based Shen Yun has three companies that tour the world each year on a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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