MELBOURNE, Australia—On its opening night in Melbourne’s beautiful State Theatre Shen Yun Performing Arts World Company was welcomed into a city exploding with light. While the company danced and sang the 5,000 years of ancient Chinese culture on stage, special creative lighting illuminated the outside of the theatre and other major buildings as part of the twelve hour annual Festival of White Night.
Douglas Heywood, OAM, the Conductor of Camberwell Chorale and the Camerata Orchestra says he has been coming to see Shen Yun every year for six years and loves it. Mr. Heywood is also the Music Director of “Joining the Chorus Singers” an auditioned junior and senior choir from government schools.
“It is a wonderful show and it’s something quite unique in the way it is presented. The attention to detail is just stunning. I thoroughly enjoyed it!”
Shen Yun’s mission is to bring back into society the values that endured through 5,000 years and were almost lost. It does this by presenting on stage the ancient legends and folk tales in classical Chinese dance, beautiful music, colourful hand made costumes and outstanding digital backdrops.
“I’m always amazed at the choreography, the colour, the colour is stunning, absolutely stunning. The athleticism! The athleticism of the men is just wonderful to watch. And the ladies are so elegant. It’s just a joy… All the different characters you see throughout the show. It tells the story just through the movement and the colour and the choreography, and the coming out from the clouds above and going back up again – just magic, spectacular it really is!” he said.
Of course Mr. Heywood with his background of music finds the Shen Yun orchestra very interesting.
“Every year the orchestra has a slightly different sound. It’s a rich sound and it’s good to hear the Chinese and the European instruments being played. The colour of the orchestra, the colour [timbre] across the orchestra is really fine. It’s just lovely music. And a fine conductor – he did a good job, a really good job. ”
The original scores are written especially for each performance and blend the beauty of Chinese melodies with the precision and power of the Western orchestra. Ancient Chinese instruments, the two stringed erhu and the pipa, lead the melodies above the Western instruments of woodwinds, strings and brass providing interesting colour and tone to the music.
Alexandra Cameron, Head of Music at Wesley College, Elsternwick Campus also attended the opening night. She said she really enjoyed the combinations of Western and Eastern instruments in Shen Yun, especially in the Mongolian ethnic dance “The Drums of the Grasslands”.
“The precision with the movement and sound on stage and in the orchestra. I just thought that was amazing.”
Speaking of the stories depicted Ms Cameron felt she got a sense of the ancient Chinese culture as in the “Manchurian Maidens” dance in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), where the elegant ladies of the palace wore “flower pot” shoes.
Another one that stood out for her was the “Fairies of the Sea.” “The under water effects and the way they used the props” she found fascinating. It tells the Chinese legend of delicate fairy maidens only visible to the pure of heart that appear on the surface of the sea dancing to the rhythm of the water.
In ancient China artists cultivated virtue. They believed that art was meant to celebrate the divine and nurture goodness. Shen Yun’s performers draw their spiritual inspiration from a meditation and self-improvement practice and seek to create art from a pure and humble mental space to provide peace and joy for the audience. Alexandra felt the essence of this.
“It [Shen Yun] just elevates you to another level,” she said. “And you forget about everything in your life, all your worries, and just enjoy the experience—beautiful.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Philippa Rayment
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.