Emmy Award-Winning Documentary Director Applauds Shen Yun’s Artistry

PHILADELPHIA—Donned in brightly colored costumes, dancers of Shen Yun Performing Arts move in sync to a score played by a live orchestra, while a 3-D backdrop transports the audience to a distant time and place.

Documentary filmmaker Andrea Campbell appreciated the way Shen Yun’s production was put together.

“The artistry is beautiful,” she said.

Campbell watched the performance at Merriam Theater in Philadelphia on Feb. 20, with Marlin Bert, a Lancaster City-based painter.

Shen Yun Performing Arts is currently performing in Philadelphia, as six equally large companies tour the world to restore 5,000-years of Chinese civilization through the arts.

Campbell, who founded and is a director at Natural Light Films, praised the interplay between the different elements of the production.

“I loved the flow and the way everything, the colors, have a flow together and how the dancers are so synchronized,” she said.

“It’s beautiful.”

The Emmy award-winning documentary director was particular struck by some of the female dances, such as the “Sleeves of the Tang Palace,” and the “Elegance of the Qing Dynasty.”

In the first dance, dancers wear costumes with long flowing sleeves that are incorporated into the choreography, producing a stunning visual effect. In the latter, dancers move delicately and at times in controlled slow motions, evoking a calm gracefulness.

Classical Chinese dance includes a rigorous physical component, involving tumbling techniques and unique movements and postures. In addition, it requires the intangible element of yun, or bearing, that has been described as the feeling behind a movement. Shen Yun dancers thus aspire to refine their inner world, so this energy can be reflected in their outward expressions.

Bert was also impressed by the dancers, and was amazed that “so many people can do the exact same thing at the exact same time.”

The artist also praised the look of the show, including the 3-D background which he said added depth to the scene.

He also enjoyed the colors, which were vibrant and exciting, said the painter.

Shen Yun also performs stories from China’s long history on stage using classical Chinese dance. The morals and values found in these stories reflect the beliefs of Chinese people over thousands of years, beliefs that remained largely unchanged until the Cultural Revolution instigated by the Chinese Communist Party in the 1960s to 1970s.

Bert said he particularly enjoyed the story called “The Dimwitted Monk,” because of its comedic elements.

Overall, it was hard for him to find any one part of the show to highlight.

“Everything is really, really fantastic,” he said.

With reporting by Frank Liang.

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