FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Shen Yun Performing Arts took to the stage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Au-Rene Theater, charming the audience on Friday evening, Feb. 10.
“Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts was established in 2006 with the mission of reviving 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture,” says Shen Yun’s website. “Unfortunately, over the past 60 years, this cultural treasure has been persecuted and co-opted by the Chinese Communist Party. It is outside of China that Shen Yun’s artistic creators have the ability to freely express themselves and their ancient culture.”
Shen Yun’s performances feature classical Chinese dance, along with “brilliant costumes, breathtaking projection, and an orchestra that combines both classical Western and Chinese instruments,” adds the website, such as the 4,000 year-old erhu, or two-stringed Chinese violin.
Michael Cooper, chief concierge at the Lago Mar Resort Motel–a renowned oceanfront resort owned by the Banks family for more than 50 years–attended Friday’s performance to get a better understanding of Shen Yun before telling the resort’s guests all about it.
“To send my guests to such a wonderful show, I come to see it first,” said Mr. Cooper. “[Now] having seen it, I know its beautiful and very cultural for this community.”
Mr. Cooper particularly singled out How the Monkey King Came To Be, a dance about the Monkey King, “the central character in China’s classic novel Journey to the West,” says Shen Yun’s program book. “Born out of a rock, he has magical powers that allow him to travel freely between Heaven and Earth.” After learning, he is left out of a heavenly banquet, a comical situation ensues in Heaven’s peach orchard.
Mr. Cooper’s companion for the evening, Candace McKinniss, a school teacher, loved multiple aspects of the performance.
“I loved the poetic nature of the songs, which then carried into the dances,” said Ms. McKinniss. “It’s so beautiful.”
Many Shen Yun pieces are dances accompanied by the orchestra and digital backdrop. Some others feature award-winning vocalists–tenors and sopranos–performing solos, accompanied by a grand piano. Songs are sung in Chinese, yet both Chinese characters and English subtitles are shown on the backdrop during these solos.
Ms. McKinniss felt the songs spoke to her heart, and set a mood and a feeling for the rest of the performance.
“I just love the way it all ties together,” she said.
‘It was just fantastic’
John Lamont, a retired police officer, and Pat Allen, a former educator, also attended Friday’s performance.
“It was just fantastic,” said Mr. Lamont. “We loved it. We appreciated the athleticism of the performers and the effort that they put into preparing for the performance. It was fantastic.”
Mr. Lamont enjoyed the dance Sleeves of Silk. “Classical Chinese dance uses what are known as “water sleeves” for some of its loveliest expressions,” says Shen Yun’s program book. “Acting as extensions of a dancer’s arms, these sleeves linger in the air long after a movement is finished. The effect is akin to fluttering wings or trailing ripples, a visual echo of the performer as she glides from one movement to the next.”
“They looked like they were just floating,” said Ms. Allen, who saw Shen Yun two years ago and decided to come back for more. When asked why, she had a simple answer.
“They are beautiful.”
Reporting by Yang Chen and Zachary Stieber.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company, one of three Shen Yun companies, is performing at the Broward Center through Feb. 12. This year, for the first time, Shen Yun will perform in Tampa, with three performances scheduled for the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on March 3 and 4.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.