Theater Director: Shen Yun ‘Totally Appeals to Both Chinese and American Audiences’

April 11, 2011 Updated: April 13, 2011

SAN JOSE, Calif.—On Saturday, April 9, Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company presented its third show at the Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose. Among the group of students from the University of California at Santa Cruz, was Darren Sarkin, theater director and actor at Michelle Talley Directing Studio at UCSC.

Mr. Sarkin, who also studies Theater and Chinese Language at the University, found the show to be “very well done, very organized and professional. It totally appeals to both Chinese and American audiences, and reveals lots of depth in Chinese culture. It's wonderful.

“It was so beautiful. I totally enjoyed every moment of it, especially the Mongolian horse riders. Those were wonderful.” He was referring to the dance Herding on the Grasslands in which “dancers evoke powerful images of Mongolia’s unbridled wilderness as they capture the high spirits and warm heart of its people,” according to the program.

Mr. Sarkin was also impressed by the dance The Heroic Lu Zhishen. He commented: “I think it's very well done. Their physical expression is very specific and tells the story exactly, without needing words, and it’s beautiful.”  

He commented on the digital, animated backdrops that are interactive with the performers on stage. “The use of media in this show as a constant background was fascinating. I have not seen that much use of integrated media. The way that they flew in and out with the presentation was very unique.”

Mr. Sarkin was accompanied by Emily Ma, who was interested in the dancing techniques. “We're trying to make a Chinese play so it's giving us a lot of ideas about what we can integrate into it,” she said.

Moses Norton, a student of Environmental studies and Biology at UC Santa Cruz, also does “a little theater on the side,” as he put it. He said that he was “working at a project doing fight choreography with Darren and Emily.”

Mr. Norton shared that “it was great to see ethnic Chinese performers being able to go and express themselves and their culture and their traditions … outside of their country. It was a pretty good and unique experience to have.”

Mr. Sarkin added: “Totally unique. I've never seen anything like that in this country and I'm a very large fan of Chinese movement, dance and theater. And I definitely love the specificity and the precision in their dance and movement. We do not see a lot of that in this country. Performers who can move well are a rare thing in this country.”

Mr. Norton was impressed by “really clear intention and generosity of the [dancers’] movements.”

Mr. Sarkin also noticed various messages in the show, especially “demonstrating the culture of China to the world and presenting a more positive view on Falun Dafa than the Chinese government presents.”  

Mr. Norton was impressed with "the demonstration of the diversity of Chinese culture.” He talked about “so many different sub-cultures and sub-ethnic groups, which have their own unique and individual art forms and styles.”

“I thought it was really, really great to take all those different ethnic groups and cultures and art forms and put them together into one performance and present that as the Chinese culture … .”

Reporting by Kerry Huang and Nataly Teplitsky.

Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will next perform in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 13, and then Chicago, April 15-24. For more information please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org