The Straz Center, which borders the scenic Riverwalk along the Hillsborough River, is a cultural hub in the city and is the second-largest performing arts complex in the Southeast.
This weekend’s engagement, which includes a matinee and an evening performance on Sunday, will mark the company’s debut in Tampa. The New York-based company announced at the Saturday performance that it will return to the Tampa Bay area May 5 for two performances at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. In February, Shen Yun performed in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for the fifth consecutive year.
At intermission, Olga McBride said that she felt a connection to Chinese culture while watching the show. She grew up in Russia and said that the Russian and Chinese cultures, although not close, had a similar history—the development and decay of their traditional cultures.
She said she enjoyed the tenor, who “was perfect and just amazing.” She thought the dancers were very professional, and she was awed by their expressivity: “They could speak with the ends of their fingers.”
Ruth is an assistant superintendent of a local school system. She said she was enjoying the performance and found it educational, expanding her understanding of Chinese culture through the costumes, movements, and emotions.
After the performance, Sonnia Hove, who works in marketing technology, said that the show was very entertaining and that she really loved the orchestra with its incorporation of traditional Chinese instruments.
She described the vocal soloists as having “really, really powerful” voices and was especially moved by the soprano’s intensity. She thought the graphics of the interactive background was fun.
“Animated backdrops transport the audience to another world. Projected behind the dancers, the hi-tech images lift the stage and set it amidst blossoming landscapes, deep forests, Mongolian prairies, or celestial paradises,” the Shen Yun website says of its use of graphics.
Ms. Hove said she appreciated the fact that the different ethnic groups in China were represented, and she felt inspired to learn more.
Reporting by Marie Yeung and Estelle Morgan.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. After the Tampa engagement, Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will next perform in Memphis, Tenn.
For more information, please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.