Shen Yun Dance Provides a Cultural Background and Appreciation for China
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—David Best and Judith LaFourest found a different view and appreciation of traditional China through Shen Yun Performing Arts at Clowes Memorial Hall of Butler University on April 20.
They came due to his interests and experiences in China. Twice, he took a group of U.S. surveyors to China to network with Chinese surveyors. Mr. Best is a retired engineer and surveyor and Associate Professor of Emeritus at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Shen Yun, through the storytelling classical Chinese dance, original orchestral music combining East and West traditional instruments, award-winning vocal soloists, and high-technology animated backdrops, depicts myths, legends, and past and current history of China.
“Spectacular, the imagery was wonderful,” said Ms. LaFourest. “This is the first time I have been [to Shen Yun]. I just loved it.”
For Mr. Best, the skills of the performers were impressive. “This represents the creativity and the artistic abilities of the Chinese people. … The way in which the choreography was put together, it’s just remarkable, the skills that these dancers represent.”
“I think this is a means of providing Americans … a different view of Chinese culture and history,” said Mr. Best. “As far as Americans are concerned, we don’t properly understand Chinese culture and Chinese history.”
Through dance, Shen Yun is “providing us with background that we otherwise would not have,” he said.
“And, an appreciation also. A beautiful appreciation of it,” added Ms. LaFourest.
“Chinese dance is at the heart of what Shen Yun does. Known for its incredible flips and spins, and its gentle elegance, it is one of the most rigorous and expressive art forms in the world,” according to the Shen Yun website.
Ms. LaFourest was in awe of the digital backdrops. “Do you know what amazed me? It was the new concept, the video background—the modernization of it.”
A different animated backdrops is created for each of the dance and singing performances which not only interacts with the performers but transports the audience into different realms, historical places and to the heavens and back.
She also enjoyed the orchestra and singers.
“Remarkable sopranos, just exquisite,” Mr. Best said.
“The resounding voices of bel canto soloists are an integral part of the Shen Yun experience,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
The Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra “opens a whole new venue, for us to appreciate,” said Mr. Best.
“Audience members are often surprised to hear that Shen Yun cannot be seen in China today. In fact, there is no other performance like it in China today,” the Shen Yun website states.
“The explanation dates back to the Cultural Revolution and systematic attempts to wipe out the heritage of 5,000 years of civilization. Shen Yun’s mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture,” Shen Yun’s website explains.
Several of the 20-some mini-dance performances portray the persecution of people who practice traditional meditation.
“These things can’t be done in China now, and it’s so sad, heart breaking,” Ms. LaFourest said.
Mr. Best’s response: “That is one thing that struck me deep in the heart. Why restrict the people in China from not having the ability to seeing something like this? That’s tragic I think.”
Ms. LaFourest agreed, saying “I don’t see what the problem is either. I just don’t understand why they cannot performed there.”
Reporting by Stacey Tang and Cat Rooney
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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