EDMONTON, Canada—Edmonton painter Kari Duke is known for her ability to find beauty in unconventional places.
On Wednesday, she discovered it in a big way at the Shen Yun Performing Arts showing at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like it, its a beautiful escape,” she said.
“I didn’t know what to expect and it was just a thrill to watch.”
Ms. Duke is best known for her paintings of urban landscapes and the neighbourhoods around Edmonton. Her work is exhibited at several prominent galleries in the city, and are sought after by local art lovers.
As a professional artist, she was enamored with the artistry displayed in Shen Yun.
“Its hugely artistic, it was just a beautiful experience, absolutely lovely,” she said.
The New-York based company is known for incorporating digital moving backdrops and elaborate handmade costumes into its performances, which aim to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.
Ms. Duke’s neighbor Bruce Heming, a retired University of Alberta biology professor, accompanied her to the performance and said the show was in a class unto itself.
“It’s so different to anything I’ve seen, so original. It is beautifully staged,” he said.
“I would come again.”
According to the Shen Yun website, the company is leading a renaissance of traditional Chinese culture through story-based classical Chinese dance and folk dance that aims to capture the essence of the traditional culture.
As a former educator, Mr. Heming commended the cultural value of the performance, which takes audiences on a tour through China’s five-millennia-old civilization.
“This is a whole aspect of culture that most of us have never seen before and it’s so wonderful,” he said.
“Its absolutely superb—really blew me away.”
Ms. Duke was amazed by the synchronization between the numerous dancers on stage, the orchestra, and the digital moving backdrops
“It was so synchronized. The amount of work involved must be amazing,” she said.
“They should be very proud of themselves.”
One of her favourite pieces was a dance entitled Martial Arts Training Ground. In this dance, soldiers hone their skills for the battlefield with challenging jumps, flips, and tumbling techniques.
“The power and the grace is wonderful,” she said.
Mr. Hening was struck by Snowflakes Welcoming Spring, which features numerous graceful female dancers twirling sparkling handkerchief “snowflakes” to mark the change of the seasons.
“I thought that was just beautiful,” he said.
With files from Fany Qiu
Shen Yun Performing Arts has three equally large companies touring the world. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will next travel to Regina to stage one performance at the Conexus Arts Centre on Friday Apr. 13.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.