PASADENA, Calif.—The Pasadena Civic Auditorium was abuzz on Thursday evening, April 28. Theatergoers were gathering to see Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company's opening night in Pasadena, bringing the grandeur of China's artistic traditions and ancient Chinese culture.
Among the audience were Miguel Olivares, who works at the Glendale Advanced Medical Center, and Roquel Ormsby-Olivares, who works at Monterey Park. They were seeing Shen Yun for the first time and enjoying the spectacle.
Mr. Olivares said, “It was great, fantastic! I really liked some of the art direction.” He especially liked the hi-tech animated backdrop, saying, “The background made it contemporary, a combination of ancient and modern.”
He added that “it was pleasurable, but also thought provoking.”
Ms. Ormsby-Olivares was enjoying the hundreds of handmade costumes, and also the singing: “I loved the costumes. … I was half expecting this to be an opera, so I also really enjoyed the soprano, she had a beautiful voice.”
She was also impressed with the digital backdrop with animation that creates a sense of dancers leaving the stage and moving into the background or other dimensions. “I loved the incorporation of the digital background with the dancers and how they used the whole stage as an entrance and exit. Sometimes the actors would go over the stair, into the digital (backdrop) and then they’d fly away. … I was like, “Wow!” It caught me by surprise. I enjoyed that.”
The Olivares are sensitive to culture and its expression. Ms. Ormsby-Olivares said, “I felt like there were a lot of different sub cultures. I liked how you could tell by the costumes that there were different regions and different people, and different ways of expressing themselves and their culture. Different outfits that they wore, instruments they play, and the choreography, and head pieces.”
As for Mr. Olivares, he said, “I liked the instrumentation and the physicality. I just love seeing people flip around, and I imagine myself doing that. I also liked seeing all the instruments. We recently went to an instrument store in Monterey Park. I want to play a pipe organ called the sheng and she wants to play the erhu.”
Ms. Ormsby-Olivares said, “It was really great because I could hear the erhu. We were just looking this up last night, and I could hear the erhu [in the orchestra] so I was excited to hear the emcees explain that there are different parts of the orchestra, and they said it was the erhu. I wanted to know if I was right!”
They were keen to tell all their friends about Shen Yun. “You've gotta see it! … We have a lot of Chinese friends. I’m going to tell them that they have to come. It was worth it,” Mr. Olivares said.
Reporting by Cheryl Casati and Robin Kemker.
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform in Los Angeles at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, April 28-30, and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County, May 6-8. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org