Profound. Sublime. Inspiring. These are just some of the words that have been used to describe Shen Yun Performing Arts’ exhilarating production that celebrates the excellence and grandeur of traditional Chinese culture.
The unique show, which draws inspiration from the legends, values, and spirit that defined Chinese culture for centuries, is scheduled to play at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre April 3 – 8.
Currently on an extensive world tour, Shen Yun (formerly Divine Performing Arts), is composed of a leading group of Chinese artists seeking to revive China’s traditional performing arts and culture that thrived before decades of suppression by the Chinese communist state.
Shen Yun takes its inspiration from China’s 5,000-year culture, presenting myths and legends from ancient dynastic times as well as modern-day tales. The performance company also features a state-of-the-art animated backdrop that brings a three-dimensional quality to the action onstage.
Through large-scale vibrant performances of classical Chinese dance, vocal soloists, and lively drumming, Shen Yun aspires to reach audiences by engaging the senses and moving the heart.
“The real purpose of the performance is to touch peoples' hearts, not the presentation of skills. It is the inner meaning of the performance, and the virtue and self-cultivation of the artists. We are presenting the core values of ancient Chinese culture,” said Shen Yun principal dancer and company manager, Vina Lee, a graduate of the prestigious Beijing Academy of Dance.
Blending the strength and vigour of Western wind and string instruments with the delicate sounds of traditional Chinese instruments, the Shen Yun orchestra produces a unique and stirring sound. Featuring original compositions and arrangements, the music is a worthy companion to the graceful movement of the dancers.
Strongly influenced by Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, ancient Chinese culture had profound inner meaning. Virtues such as propriety, compassion, and loyalty were intrinsic to the culture and their essence is portrayed in the show.
“I like the sense of spirituality, humanity, goodness, and kindness of the ancient Chinese tradition, thousands of years coming down through the centuries to our present time,” said Ottawa poet and writer Cyril Dabydeen, who has attended the show the last three seasons.
Dabydeen was especially impressed by The Udumbara's Bloom in which the dancers mimic a flower blossoming. The piece takes its inspiration from paintings preserved in the Buddhist Dunhuang caves of Western China and Indian dance.
The Udumbara blossoms every 3,000 years and is believed in Buddhism to be a sign of blessings and good fortune. Udumbara flowers—tiny blossoms on delicate stems—have been reportedly spotted in several countries in recent years.
Shen Yun Performing Arts 2009 World Tour spans 80 cities on four continents, reaching a projected live audience of about 800,000 people worldwide.
Shen Yun will play at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 600 Hamilton St., Vancouver, from April 3 – 8, 2009. Show times are: April 3, 7:30 pm; April 4, 2:30 & 7:30 pm; April 5, 2:30 pm; April 6, 7, & 8, 7:30 pm. Ticket Hotline: 604 454 1110; Ticketmaster: 604 280 4444. www.shenyunperformingarts.com.