TORONTO— Shen Yun Performing Arts’ unparalleled presentation of China’s ancient culture through live orchestral music and dance had audiences heaping praise on the April 23 performance at Toronto’s Sony Centre.
“I loved the show. It’s my third time seeing it. But the last time I saw it I think it was about eight or nine years ago. It’s been a long time. It’s beautiful, beautiful. I really, really enjoyed it,” said nutritionist Renny Duquette, currently a stay-at-home mom.
“Just watching it, it’s beautiful and relaxing. And the scenery, the background scenery was beautiful, and the dancers were so talented.”
New York-based Shen Yun uses the ancient art form of classical Chinese dance to tell stories and myths from literature and history that embody traditional values like loyalty, compassion, and respect for the divine. Shen Yun also performs ethnic and folk dances from among China’s distinctive ethnic minority groups.
As soon as the curtain rises, audience members—such as Ms. Duquette’s young daughter— find themselves swept away to the enchanting world of ancient China and its legends and characters.
“It was an honour to bring my daughter here,” Ms. Duquette said. “She loved it. She’s 7 years old and she sat through the whole thing. Her main comment was, ‘Whoa, Mommy, did you see that?’ She loved it. She was really taken with it. Her eyes were very big.”
Ms Duquette said the performance left her with a good feeling.
“I feel really good. I feel light. It’s a feel-good show. I loved it.”
‘I Was Very Moved’
Kate Tremills, a piano teacher and vocal coach, was brought to Shen Yun by her student Cherry Zhang.
“It was a beautiful show. I was just saying that it was very educational for me, and informative and really really beautiful artistically and musically, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was wonderful, I highly recommend it,” said Ms. Tremills.
“I think it was beautiful and it was really interesting to hear the combination of the Western and Chinese instruments,” she said of Shen Yun’s unique orchestra.
Ms. Zhang saw Shen Yun in Hamilton last year and said it was educational for her also.
“It reminds me of some cultural things from China, so I was very moved, impressed,” she said.
She said seeing her traditional culture presented on stage to such a warm welcome was very moving.
“I just fell very touched, and some of the dancing is from our area, our province so this reminds me of so many memories and just the happiness form my childhood, so I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Natalie Archer, a dentist, said she “loved learning about the cultural goings-on” through the show.
“It’s fantastic, wonderful,” she said.
She had high praise for the dancers. “Extremely skilled, very disciplined, and extremely professional. And very passionate about what they do.”
“And also the music,” she added. “It’s just very peaceful, and I just really appreciate understanding more about the culture. … So it’s very educational.”
Greg Halpenny, a retired nuclear power plant operator and his wife, Heather Halpenny, came to Toronto from Whitby to take in the show.
“We saw it on television and I thought, ‘I think that’s going to be really good.’ And it’s fantastic,” said Mrs. Halpenny.
“I love the costumes and I think the men dance just as well as the women. It’s exciting.”
Mr. Halpenny said he could see the connection between classical Chinese dance and martial arts.
Mrs. Halpenny enjoyed the dance “Manchurian Maidens,” in which the female dancers wear flower pot shoes.
“That was interesting. And they’re so quiet, and so dignified. The costumes are so dignified. … These women are so gracious looking. It’s exciting. I would recommend it to anybody,” she said.
“I can hardly wait until the second half,” she said.
“It is telling a story and it’s exciting listening to the story,” Mr. Halpenny said of the show.
“I’m enjoying their backdrop, the way they’re using the new technology to bring it to life. The colour is great,” added Mrs. Halpenny.
Peter Schoenfeld also gave his thoughts on the performance during the intermission.
“The show’s interesting, it’s really good,” he said.
“It’s nice to see different cultures and what it brings out and the story behind it as well.”
His wife was equally enthusiastic.
“I think it’s amazing. Just the colours, and the grace of everybody and the story behind it. It just gives me shivers,” said Anne-Christine Schoenfeld.
Shen Yun was founded on a mission to revive 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture. Mr. Schoenfeld said that mission came through and was done tastefully. His wife agreed.
“Tasteful and open to every culture. I don’t think that you feel like you’re going to church or something and yet getting the story and the spiritualism behind it, which I find is very interesting and unique,” Mrs. Schoenfeld said.
Reporting by Matthew Little, Dongyu Teng and Joan Delaney
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company is currently touring Eastern Canada. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.