TORONTO—Shen Yun Performing Arts opened Friday at the Canon Theatre in Toronto, playing to a packed house. Among the audience was MPP Michael Prue, who had seen the show before.
“I came once before two years ago and watched the show and I wanted to come back,” said Mr. Prue
“The costumes, the choreography, the dance, everything is wonderful. I am a great student of history and it’s good to see Chinese history portrayed in the way it is, and I admire very much the performers.”
Mr. Prue was first elected as an East York councillor in 1988. He went on to serve as East York's mayor from 1993 to 1997. He was also a councillor for the City of Toronto before making the move to provincial politics.
Shen Yun takes its inspiration from 5,000 years of Chinese culture, portraying ancient myths and legends as well as contemporary stories through classical Chinese dance.
“They were talking about the Tang dynasty and they were talking about the Manchu dynasty and such, and just what China was. You see China today to be just a big industrialized country so it’s good to go back and look at this history. That’s where the culture comes from. It’s good to keep it alive,” said Mr. Prue.
MPP Paul Miller and his wife, Carole Paikin Miller, who also attended Friday’s premiere, are both “very big fans” of the show.
“The spiritual part of it comes through and it’s the whole thing that drives the dance and the art and the interpretive stuff. I love that,” said Mrs. Miller.
“I love that because it’s missing in today’s media and today’s entertainment industry. You don’t get very many values any more. It’s always at a superficial level. So this is the kind of thing that really inspires me. I love it. I came once before. I really enjoyed it.”
Mrs. Miller has worked as an elementary school teacher and has been a freelance journalist for Hamilton This Month magazine for 16 years. She wrote not only the story but also five songs for her children's book One Enchanted Tunelight, for which she won an award.
Shen Yun is renowned for its Chinese classical dance, which itself comprises ethnic and folk dance, story-based dance, and aerial movements such as leaps and spins. The show also has musical soloists and a live symphony orchestra that blends traditional Chinese and Western instruments.
“They have such colorful costumes, such wonderful dance. It’s dignified, honorable,” said Mr. Miller, a labor rights activist who has worked for 32 years at Hamilton Steel as an industrial mechanic, welder and fitter.
“I believe in culture. I believe in people expressing themselves, and I believe that in this situation a lot has been lost.” said Mr. Miller.
But Shen Yun, a New York-based performance company founded by leading Chinese artists, is seeking to revive China’s ancient culture and values and presents them to audiences around the world.
“If these people can maintain the culture and bring it to the rest of the world, God bless them because it’s a wonderful thing to see,” said Mr. Miller.
Shen Yun will play three more shows at the Canon, ending its run on Sunday Oct 11.
For more information please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org