ST. LOUIS—”There is so much beauty in this and everything about it. It makes going out into the real world more bearable, to come and just be surrounded by so much beauty,” said Julia Proleinko after watching the sold-out matinee performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the St. Louis Peabody Opera House on Sunday, Feb. 19, with her son, and Jeffrey Weishaupt.
Ms. Proleinko, a violin teacher, said that coming to Shen Yun was a Christmas gift that her 10-year-old son, Adrian, really wanted. “I try to take him to everything that would have male ballet dancers or male dancers because he does ballet,” she said.
“I’m thrilled that I got to be the one to take him to see [Shen Yun] because it was phenomenal,” Ms. Proleinko said. “I had moments where my jaw hit the ground … I wanted to yell and scream. I think it was very inspiring for him. I’m thrilled that we were able to come see it.”
Besides learning ballet, at the age of seven, Adrian wrote and performed an aria for a professional opera. “[Adrian] managed to have John Corigliano ask him for his autograph because he wrote a little aria for the opera,” Ms. Proleinko said. Mr. Corigliano is a renowned classical music composer who wrote the opera.
New York-based Shen Yun’s mission is to revive 5,000 years of divinely inspired ancient Chinese culture through the arts of classical Chinese and ethnic dance, orchestral music, award winning soloists and high technology stage backdrops.
“[Classical Chinese dance] has become a complete system of dance embodying traditional aesthetic principles with its unique dance movements, rhythms and inner meaning,” according to the Shen Yun website. The jumps, turns and flips give classical Chinese dance special expressivity. It is also the base for gymnastics.
“It was really surprising that [the male dancers] were doing back flips, front flips, fly wheels and all the other stuff that you would expect to see in gymnastics,” said Adrian, who was truly inspired. “It was really cool.”
After seeing the performers do the splits with such precision, Adrian said, “I can almost do the splits so, it just makes me want to work towards the splits more.”
The Shen Yun Orchestra plays all original music that combines both classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments, producing a unique sound.
“I very much appreciate that from the stand point of a musician,” said Ms. Proleinko. “They have worked very hard to make it look that good and that easy. It was incredible.”
[Shen Yun] was absolutely fantastic,” said Mr. Weishaupt, an orthopedic nurse. “It was very entertaining.”
He also found the performance “a great way to be introduced to Chinese culture” and history that he was not familiar with. “It is a great medium to get your attention, to get you involved, and to get you interested in it,” he added.
“It’s obvious that they are very concerned about the struggle going on in China today. For the freedoms they don’t have right now,” he commented, and felt that Shen Yun had “a really good message.” A message of “trusting in a higher power who has been involved in things before, is now, and will be in the future” for everything will come full circle and be fine, he said.
Adrian concluded by saying, “This show is just a really great show.”
Reporting by Valerie Avore and Cat Rooney
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will give another performance at the Peabody Opera House on Sunday, Feb. 19, and then continue on to Denver for performances on Feb. 22 and 23 at The Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.