SCHENECTADY, New York—Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company enthralled audiences from around Albany, the capital city of New York State, in the Albany suburb of Schenectady on Jan. 19. The small city, home to around 60,000 people, lies 15 miles north-west of Albany. The historic city is home to Union College, the very first planned college campus in the United States. At one time, Schenectady was called The City that Lights and Hauls the World, referring to the two large companies based in the city: the Edison Electric Company (better known now as General Electric), and the American Locomotive Company (ALCO).
In heart of downtown Schenectady is the Proctors Theatre, also known as The Mainstage. Built in 1926 for screening movies and performing vaudeville, the beautifully restored theater is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its focus has shifted to performing arts, and it describes itself as the top performing arts venue in the New York capital area. Proctors presents such classics as The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King, and now, for the first time, Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Attending the Shen Yun performance at Proctors was Michael Robert McNulty, who served as a U.S. Congressman for 20 years, retiring in 2009. During the 110th Congress, he served as the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Social Security. Now describing himself as a business consultant, he attended the Shen Yun show with his granddaughter. The Epoch Times caught up with Mr. McNulty during the intermission.
"I really love the beautiful colors of the costumes," said Mr. McNulty. "They’re just very visually attractive, and the way they were used in the precision dancing was very nice."
Shen Yun uses over 400 hand-made costumes in its performances, spanning China’s dynasties, regions, and ethnic groups.
The precision of Shen Yun's dancers impressed Mr. McNulty in particular.
"The tenor and the soprano were very good as well. I’m really enjoying it," he said.
Mr. McNulty's granddaughter Lola also weighed in on the performance.
"I thought it was really great, all the dancing, and how they were able to tumble the ways they actually did, and move that way. The costumes were very pretty. I really enjoyed it," she said.
Shen Yun Performing Arts uses mainly classical Chinese dance to explore the richness and depth of ancient Chinese culture. Key elements that require training in classical Chinese dance are physical bearing, artistic expression, unique postures, specific technical movements, and highly difficult tumbling techniques.
"It’s great and we’re looking forward to part two," concluded Mr. McNulty.
'The dances are stunning'
Also present at the show was Harry Sturges, a very active citizen of Coeymans, New York, another suburb of Albany.
Being a school teacher wasn't enough for Mr. Sturges; when he retired from teaching he opened up a successful Real Estate brokerage, Sturges Realty, and he also served as the town Judge for 20 years. After all of that, "I decided I think it's time to quit," he joked.
"I find it [Shen Yun] fascinating. I like the way they had the backgrounds," Mr. Sturges said.
Each Shen Yun dance or operatic singing piece is performed in front of a hi-tech animated backdrop, which features scenery specially created for each dance or song.
"The dances are stunning, they're well done, excellent. I like everything about it," Mr. Sturges said.
Mr. Sturges said he noticed elements within the Shen Yun dance pieces that reminded him of gymnastics and modern dance. Indeed, many of the techniques that are typically associated with gymnastics and acrobatics actually originate from classical Chinese dance, and have a history of thousands of years.
"I think it was enchanting, I think it was beautiful," he said. "I loved everything about it."
Reporting by Tara MacIsaac and Jan Jekielek.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For dates in Detroit, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org