MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Memphis, Tennesee, touted as the ‘Home of the Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll’, was graced with the presence of the world’s foremost of classical Chinese dance company.
Among those seated at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 5 were health professionals Ivan and Terry Spengler.
Mr. Spengler was astounded by the splendor and mastery of the Shen Yun Performing Arts dancers appearing before his eyes.
“What amazed me about the Chinese dancing was that—especially the ladies, there’s a lot of grace in the dance, but then there’s really quick movements too,” he said. “One moment they’re very graceful and the next minute they’re moving very fast. And that was kind of unusual to see. I enjoyed that about the dancing.”
He was accompanied by Terry Spengler who said she especially enjoyed the energy of the male dancers and the thunderous drumming sequences.
“Very energetic and I love the combination of the percussion and the dance. The drumming, the ribbons, it was very colorful—very peaceful and rhythmical,” Ms. Spengler said.
Classical Chinese dance has a history of thousands of years, sharing a common ancestry with martial arts, according to Shen Yun’s website. “Its dramatic jumping, spinning, and flipping techniques are just part of the vast repertoire of movements that make classical Chinese dance one of the most demanding and expressive art forms in the world.”
Ms. Spengler said she hadn’t realized just how athletic classical Chinese dance was and that gave her an appreciation for the dance.
‘Certainly put on a good show’
Patrick Kramer, a retired engineer, was also in the audience enjoying Shen Yun for the first time.
“What they’re depicting—the gracefulness, the agility—everything was most interesting. Very good, very good, I’m enjoying it,” he said.
He doesn’t get downtown very much, he said, in fact it was only the second time he had visited the elegant theater.
“It’s a beautiful place, and they certainly put on a good show.”
In 2006, a group of leading classical Chinese artists came together in New York with one wish: to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China and share it with the world, almost lost under communist rule, the website states.
Although Shen Yun cannot perform in China, the company is in its eighth season of bringing ancient traditions to the stage through hundreds of performances over four continents, including Taiwan, Honk Kong, and Japan.
“This is only the second time I’ve been to something here at the Cannon Center, and I’ve enjoyed both performances.”
‘Fans of Shen Yun’
Anne Jones considers herself a full time mom and has seen Shen Yun once before.
“We’re quite the fans of Shen Yun,” she said at intermission. “It’s unbelievable. The coordination—to me, ‘athletes’—and they’re just unbelievable artists and the beautiful colors and the graphics, it’s just something that makes us happy.”
She was accompanied by Baxter, her 10-year-old son who studies Mandarin at school.
“And we were just discussing it—we visited the show two years ago and we think—we don’t even know how it’s possible … we think it’s even better this year, with all the new [program]—they added lots.”
Each season, Shen Yun creates an entirely new performance, but the biggest addition for 2014 is a fourth company currently touring simultaneously across North America.
“It’s just amazing, the talent. And of course even the beautiful sopranos, and we’re going to hear a tenor. It just makes us so happy.”
The resounding voices of bel canto soloists are an integral part of the Shen Yun experience, according to the website. “Each program is heightened by several moving selections from our singers. Their impassioned songs give voice to hopes that have shaped Chinese culture for centuries.”
Ms. Jones said her son Baxter enjoyed the crisp staccato beat of the chopsticks dance, Mongolian Chopsticks.
Against a vista of endless blue sky, Mongolian men are gathered in companionship. Drinking to life in the harsh northern steppes, they pull together to perform a traditional chopsticks dance.
Ms. Jones works voluntarily through Baxter’s school, the local church, and also in the local community for different charities.
She even helps with the Dolly Parton’s Imaginary Library, the famous County and Western singer, “because this is our home. We live here,” she said.
Reporting by Teresa You and Raiatea Tahana-Reese
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.