ROSEMONT, Ill.—Maria Elena Ponticiello, an eight-time Emmy winning television producer at Telemundo Chicago, was effusive in praising Shen Yun.
“It was very attractive … very informative … beautiful, and very sublime,” said Ms. Ponticiello after the Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company’s evening performance at the Rosemont Theatre on Feb. 13. At some point, it was even hypnotic in its beauty, she said.
Shen Yun, a Chinese classical dance and music company based in New York, seeks to revive 5,000 years of Chinese culture through Chinese classical dance. It is an elegant and highly expressive art form with a history nearly as long as China’s civilization, which is believed to be divinely inspired.
With its emphasis on form, bearing, and demanding tumbling and flipping techniques, Chinese classical dance is perfectly suited to conveying scenes from the imperial courts and the heavens, as well as China’s different folk and ethnic groups.
Ms. Ponticiello, who saw Shen Yun with her husband, was impressed with the dance and described several as examples: a Tibetan ethnic dance involving female dancers with long, flowing white sleeves; a high-energy Mongolian ethnic dance where male dancers play paddle drums; and a classical Chinese dance depicting dainty fairy maidens manipulating cerulean silk fans to mimic ocean waves.
“I can only imagine how many hours and hours these dancers put in to master their skills,” she said. “Given how incredibly synchronized they are, I have no question that there is a lot of work put together in those scenes.”
Ms. Ponticiello was also drawn to soloist Xiaochun Qi’s performance of the erhu, a two-stringed, bowed Chinese instrument.
“The erhu was extremely beautiful, and I’ve never heard anything like that,” she said. “At some point it sounded like a violin, and it can also sound like a flute, so it was beautiful to be exposed to that.”
According to the Shen Yun website, the erhu is “incredibly expressive, capable of imitating sounds from chirping birds to neighing horses, and in its middle to lower range, the ‘Chinese violin’ is “especially stirring and somber, a quality eminently suitable for conveying the grand pageant of China’s history and the emotions of its people.”
Ms. Ponticiello was moved by Shen Yun’s depiction of spirituality. For instance, in the dance story “Hope for the Future,” a white-robed Buddha with golden rings emanating from him is seen in the state-of-the-art digital projection. This image, Ms. Ponticiello feels, illustrates the virtue of compassion in a very beautiful but uncomplicated way.
Ms. Ponticiello also found it “really shocking” to learn in two dance stories that Chinese citizens face abuse and torture in today’s China for practicing Falun Gong, a spiritual self-cultivation discipline whose adherents perform five sets of meditative exercises and live by teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. “I am a big believer of meditation so I think that would be really hard not to have it in your life,” she said.
In all, Ms. Ponticiello thinks Shen Yun “really allows you to see Chinese culture throughout history and also it is just very, very entertaining and beautiful.” She regrets not bringing her two young daughters to watch Shen Yun, and intends to tell them about the “beautiful dances and beautiful costumes” when she gets home.
“I think Shen Yun is a must-see,” she added.
Reporting by Catherine Wen and Larry Ong
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.
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.