Television Composer: Shen Yun Orchestra ‘Catching with a Zing’

February 9, 2012 Updated: August 14, 2015

SEATTLE—Composer of the official theme for the Seattle International Film Festival, Charles Henri Avelange, said the Shen Yun Performing Arts presentation of Chinese dance and music blew him away.

The Seattle television composer saw the New York-based presentation for the first time on Feb. 8, at the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.

“I want to say it is absolutely wonderful. The music was perfect. I was definitely amazed by the quality of the performance of the musicians and the synchronization of the choreography with the dancers, it blew me away.”

Shen Yun aspires to reawaken 5,000 years of China’s divinely imparted cultural heritage, which has been destroyed over the past 60 years of communist rule. Story-based dances make up the major part of the performance.

Mr. Avelange singled out one such dance he thought particularly impressive, Welcoming Spring, “where they are throwing the snowflakes in the air,” he said.

“The dancers were synchronized, together, but at the meantime the music was right on it with the gongs and symbols and catching with a zing—that impressed me with that level of synchronization, I am sure is really hard to accomplish.”

The Shen Yun Orchestra’s unique blend of ancient Chinese and contemporary Western instruments, plus Mr. Avelange’s love for music, had him thinking about composition arrangements in the future.

“I love that. You see, as a composer, it is something I have said I would love to do and the combination of the oboe and the strings combined with [erhu]… that combination I absolutely love and actually tonight, as I was listening, I was getting some ideas for my own work in the future.”

Classical Chinese dance is a complete system of dance embodying traditional aesthetic principles, including three main components—bearing, form, and technical skill, the company’s website espouses.

“The performance of the men particularly, are more like warrior’s interpretations,” Mr. Avelange said.

He used to do martial arts when younger and says he knows how hard the technical dance skills are, such as “spinning moves in the air,” he said.

“In one performance, one of the dancers was doing all the spinning around to the point we felt like he was flying, and I believe the entire audience at that moment enjoyed it, because everyone applauded at that time.”

Mr. Avelange also was amazed with the seamless interaction of digitally-enhanced backdrops, and the stage.

“That was a great idea. What was really cool was to see the characters flying on the screen then appearing [on stage] … I thought that was really nice and refreshing to see.”

Reporting by Chen Si and Raiatea Tahana-Reese.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world.

For more information, visit