Vibrant and enlightening, five thousand years of Chinese civilisation relives itself within 150 minutes of classical Chinese dance and music that feels like a gust of fantasy and history sweeping you up into its existence and beauty and absorbing you into a world the performances individually and collectively inspire within your heart.
Each of the performances amazes and dazzles you leaving you in a state of wonder and awe. The comprehensiveness of the dancing, the contrast in it, the story expressed by it, the sharpness and smoothness in the technique and execution, the complimentary nature and balance achieved with the music as well as the pull it has on your being; everything involved comes together so radiantly and memorably, the Shen Yun performance really is nothing short of a spectacle infused with the breath of Chinese culture and life.
I attended the Shen Yun Performing Arts show last night which was hosted in Wellington (New Zealand) and just as I stated above, it was a spectacular.
Shen Yun basically portrays the beauty of divine beings dancing. It conveys five thousand years of Chinese civilisation within its production and captures the spirit of a culture long-lost moving quickly through regions, dynasties and legends. The mini-drama pieces draw upon those stories and legends that span China’s history from the Yellow Emperor and through the Tang and Song dynasties and all the way to the modern day. Shen Yun takes you on a journey into a long-lost world – ‘from ancient legends to heavenly palaces to the dusty plateaus of the Middle Kingdom.’
It was my first time attending a Shen Yun performance, so the experience was new, and certainly a memorable one after witnessing it. The distinct character and spirit of the performance helps to easily draw you in and when you combine the burst of colours, life of motion, animated backdrops and the dynamic yet tranquil music, you can’t help but be transported to the world the performances bring to life before you.
One of the most memorable and interesting things for me was the distinct contrasting nature of the female and male dances and the music that accompanies them. The females dancing was so delicate I literally felt like I was seeing them dance on water and at times effortlessly floating with the wind. The music that accompanied the female sections was equally as delicate and smooth which only added to the imagery I was seeing and feelings I was feeling. This is in contrast to the men dancing who performed with more power and thunder in their step, the music as well reflected this with its thunderous and intense nature during those sections. Though the contrasting natures did overlap when the focus was shifted to the piece with the female general leading her army; the powerful and commanding character the female was portraying received a matching level of intensity and power from the accompaning music, which really was a notable development (for me at least).
My favourite piece in the Shen Yun performance was the “snowflakes ushering in Spring” one, that really was a spectacle within a spectacle. The comprehensiveness of the movements and the ease with which those female performers executed them, the use of motion as if it were an art form, the story behind it as the life of the snowflakes eventually led to the appearance of Spring; everything that happened in that piece was just brilliant. There are a lot of great pieces within the Shen Yun performance, but that was my favourite =). The individual performances by the tenors and the soprano were great as well, I let myself just drown in their voices – it was great.
The Shen Yun orchestra was amazing, though I couldn’t see them since I had a seat right on the top (I bought the cheaper ticket, so had the less favourable seating =P), but that didn’t matter, I could hear them and wow, they really were something. They complimented the performance pieces so well, helping to bring to life the world created that night, and were the main reason behind why me and probably others ended up being so absorbed in the performances.
The main purpose of the Shen Yun performance was to entertain the viewer, but there was meaning and underlying messages within the pieces, though I didn’t really understand all of them. I got what the performance generally tried to convey but since I don’t really have a comprehensive understanding of what exactly is happening in China, most of what was communicated went over my head. Though regardless of my lack of understanding of those messages, I thoroughly did enjoy the Shen Yun performances.
Apparently the Shen Yun performances change each year, so you can’t really say you’ve seen it all if you’ve seen it once =P. It’s a good way to incentivize people back into seeing it again, because it really is a great show (and surpringly educational, I learned a bit about Chinese history). It’s apparent just how much practice the performers put in, because the execution looks so effortless, it’s amazing just how smoothly everything comes together. I personally think it’s worth the money and would go see it again when a new performance is out, it really is an aesthetic and auditory treat to your senses that ends up gripping your being.
Here’s the trailer for the show:
[The Shen Yun Performing Arts offical website: shenyunperformingarts.org]