NEW YORK—Roaring applause and cheers lasted through a curtain call as Shen Yun Performing Arts finished the last of its seven shows at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater this season, on Sunday.
Shen Yun Performing Arts has set out to rekindle China’s 5,000 years of divinely-inspired culture. The show consists of classical Chinese dance and vocal music, and is accompanied by a full orchestra with both classical Western and Chinese instruments.
Stephen Fybish, a professor of music appreciation and one of New York City’s top weather historians, said he particularly enjoyed the music. “I think it’s a very impressive orchestra, and it’s very unusual to hear Western instruments with some of the Eastern ones.”
The Western instruments play the foundation and the Chinese instruments lead the melodies. “The sound produced is uniquely pleasing to the ear,” states the company’s website. “The ensemble at once expresses both the grandeur of a Western orchestra and the distinct sensibilities of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization.”
“I don’t think it’s the easiest thing in the world,” Mr. Fybish said.
Shen Yun is based in New York and features award-winning dancers, composers, and singers.
“My original idea—I just didn’t know that much about the group—was that it was actually from mainland China, for the most part. But obviously, it is a much more international group of performers, at a very high level,” Mr. Fybish said.
Unfortunately, over the past 60 years, traditional Chinese culture has been persecuted and co-opted by the Chinese Communist Party, says the Shen Yun website. “It is outside of China that Shen Yun’s artistic creators have the ability to freely express themselves and their ancient culture. Their courage to speak up is an integral part of Shen Yun’s spirit.”
Mr. Fybish said his 97-year-old aunt was a dancer—so he can “appreciate the finer points of dance.”
Classical Chinese dance is a unique art form. It has an expressive quality that lets the dancers depict any character of any age, from nearly any era—and they use it to its fullest during the performance, which includes pieces depicting China’s numerous dynasties and ethnic groups.
It also includes a broad set of movements—from gentle hand gestures and subtle movements, to martial arts-like flips and tumbling techniques.
Mr. Fybish mused, “for a while I would imagine myself on the stage attempting that stuff.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Upcoming performances in the United States include Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 24, and Columbus, Ohio, on April 26 and April 27.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.