Rudy Lienau, the vice president of operations a the Overture Center for the Arts, where Shen Yun played, said that he had “seen things like that before,” but he’d “never seen it done this well.”
“I really enjoyed the show; it was totally unexpected,” he said, noting that he likely sees more than 100 shows per year. “I walk in here and knew nothing about classical Chinese dance” and he felt that after seeing Shen Yun, he’d be able to discern good Chinese dance from bad because the bar was set so high with Shen Yun. “It’s awesome—tremendous.”
Shen Yun aims to revive the age-old cultural traditions of China that have been nearly destroyed in the past sixty years under communist rule, the company’s website says. To achieve this, the company uses classical Chinese dance as it primary form of expression.
Classical Chinese dance has been passed down for thousands of years and over time, it has become more systematic and is now considered one of the most comprehensive styles in the world, the company says.
The classical dance, Mr. Lienau notes, is “very physical, much more physical than I thought it would be.”
Shen Yun’s dancers were adept in their “synchronous movements” and they had “very high energy all the time,” and all the while, looked like they were enjoying what they are doing on stage, he added.
The performance, according to the company, presents a cohesive theme that draws on ancient Chinese cultural legends and stories of morality.
“The show made me want to go read about the Chinese culture, not the current one, but the actual historical culture of China,” Mr. Lienau said.
He added that Shen Yun’s depiction of “reaching a higher state” resonated with him because the message is about “becoming something greater than what you are.”
“I think it was a great component and it would have been wrong for it not to have been part of the show because you can’t … talk about the culture of China without” its spirituality, he added.
Each piece also includes a movement-filled, digital backdrop which the dancers interact with. The backdrop shows brightly-colored pastoral landscapes, forests, and ancient Chinese scenery.
With his previous experience as a lighting designer, Mr. Lienau said that the projectors that show the backdrop provide “both brilliance of picture, which allows them … to put stage lights in front of them … while the picture is still bright,” he said. “That’s very hard to do, very rare.”
As a manager at a theater, he saw that the audience was “greatly entertained” by Shen Yun as well as “greatly delighted.”
Reporting by Yang Chen and Jack Phillips.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform in Madison, Wisconsin, April 4-5.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org