Shen Yun: Wonderful Art and Eternal Hope (Photos)
(Clearwisdom.net) Since December 17, 2010, Shen Yun Performing Arts has toured nearly 100 cities in North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia, performing nearly 300 shows. Shen Yun has three dance companies and three symphonies. It presented 10 shows at the Lincoln Center in New York City, New York in January 2011 and returned to the center in June for five more over four days, which concluded the company’s fifth global tour.
“Unparalleled art miracle”
Brian Bruderlin founded the recording company Paramount Recording 20 years ago and now owns and operates a computer service company.
Noting the technical skills used in the performance—which brought the show to life—he said, “I loved it! It opens with a big splash and keeps right on going. Really a brilliant, brilliant flash of colors ... very beautiful.
“It caught my interest much more than watching a ballet would because there’s so much variety in the presentation. Especially the way it’s integrated with the background, the way the video screen blends in and out of the live dancers. Beautiful!
He continued. "I was amazed by the music, and how they played the music at times, tightly synced. Beautiful. Like a movie score.”
Renowned as the ‘Goddess of Cello,’ Christine Walevska, cellist and master musician, attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater on June 25. She described the Saturday evening performance of classical Chinese dance, song, and music as “just phenomenal.”
Shen Yun’s unique presentation was a handpicked selection of “the best of the best” from a collection of programs since the New York-based company’s inception five years ago. “This is spectacular—absolutely the greatest of the great,” stated Ms. Walevska after the performance. “Everything was wonderful.”
She lavished praise upon the Shen Yun artists—dancers, musicians, and vocalists alike—saying she felt “blessed” to have them return to New York again this year.
Thoms Schafer-Elmayer, founder of a renowned dance school in Austria
Mr. Thoms Schafer-Elmayer is well known for his active participation in the Vienna New Year’s Party. He said, “This show is superb at a professional level. There are many things here I need to learn. I am inspired. For the grace and beauty of the show, it is hard to express in words. One needs to experience it in person!”
Claudia Siefer, a 35-year-veteran singer with the San Francisco Opera
Claudia Siefer, a 35-year-veteran singer in the San Francisco Opera, was particularly impressed by the voice of contralto Jiansheng Yang. "I cannot express my wonderment for the contralto. It's very special, her voice is very special," Ms. Siefer exclaimed. "It’s really an extraordinary gift."
In talking about soprano Haolan Geng, Ms. Siefer said, "I can’t sing like that, no way. ... It's fantastic. It’s like something going—her voice is going to heaven. You can see when she sings, at the end of the song, her body just releases all this beautiful energy."
Ms. Siefer thought that Shen Yun was not only entertaining but also deeply meaningful. "I have an idea that the performers and the show are bringing us all together to a higher existence, elevating our existence from day-to-day to a higher understanding."
Donna Karan, fashion designer and creator of the Donna Karan New York (DKNY) clothing line
Ms. Donna Karan watched a performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, on June 23 in New York City.
“What I loved about the show was the authenticity of it. It was taking me on a journey to the many aspects of China,” she said.
Ms. Karan, who both sponsored and attended the VIP reception following the show, noted a rare synergy among the performers. “When I saw the dance and the beauty of the synergy and the movement, there was not a singular person,” she said. “It moved in unison, which was so beautiful.
“The voices were extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary, and so were the dances, but what I loved the most was that—even in the costumes—[they] were all one,” she said.
“I love the Asian aspect of the grounding, and seeing that their energy completely aligned was beautiful,” Ms. Karan said.
Famed American designer Norma Kamali
“I was very impressed with the clothing and costumes,” said famed designer Norma Kamali after seeing the over 400 hand-made costumes donned by Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company dancers.
“I saw here the best example of how fabric, clothing, and sleeves can enhance the movement and tell the story,” remarked Ms. Kamali, who also designs costumes for dance.
Ms. Kamali is better known, however, for her bathing suits, which have been featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine, and for her parachute designs on display in the Vanity Fair permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum. As a part of classical Chinese dance, the silk costumes are designed to be a rippling and flowing extension of the dancer.
“When the sleeves became a part of the rhythm and a part of the overall design of the set, it was very impressive!” said Ms. Kamali of the long, cascading sleeves found in several of the Shen Yun dance pieces.
Joe Heard, a retired photographer who photographed several former U.S. presidents, attended the show with his wife
Joe Heard, a retired photographer, and his wife, who have been married 58 years, attended opening night. He explained that, while working in Washington, D.C., he had the auspicious opportunity to photograph several former U. S. presidents, including Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter.
Describing the moment when the curtain rises, which strives to recreate the majesty of China’s rich 5,000-year-old culture, Mr. Heard said he was “surprised. Big surprise.”
Mr. Heard offered his impressions on Shen Yun saying, “Oh, it’s outstanding,” he said. “Big stage, beautiful, beautiful. Outstanding.”
Mr. Heard commented on the scenery projected on the custom-designed digital backdrop, “Oh, the visuals are unbelievable. That is gorgeous. I’ve never observed anything like that in all of my life. I’m so glad that we came tonight, my wife and I.
“This is unbelievable. We’ve seen shows before like this. But I’ve never seen the visuals so vivid as that. Looks like they’re in them; looks like you’re there. The screen comes down and you see that and it’s unbelievable!”
From May 12-April 3, 2011, the Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company showcased their talent in five cities in Taiwan, including Taoyuan, Keelung, Taichung, Chiayi, and Taipei.
Gouache painter Zhang Xiuyan (L) and her husband were in attendance at the Shen Yun performance on March 25.
Gouache painter Zhang Xiuyan praised Shen Yun saying, “As an artist, I can sense Shen Yun’s artistic achievement. Shen Yun fuses cultural essence with art and music, and offers a most complete interpretation of art, reaching the highest standard of art.”
Zhang Xiuyan’s husband was also impressed with the show. “Shen Yun brings to life 5,000 years of legends, interprets human kindness, peacefulness, propriety, and moderation, all the characteristics of the Chinese people. Shen Yun really conveys the philosophy of the Chinese people. Very beautiful programs, wonderful dance.”
Liu Baoyue, artistic director of Liu Baoyue Dance Arts Center, at Shen Yun Performing Arts performance in Keelung
Liu Baoyue, the artistic director of Dancing Dimension Dance Company, described Shen Yun as “beyond the peak.”
“When the first curtain opened, I felt my entire scalp tingling. All aspects of the show are the world's top; from the connection of the program, and the visual effects, etc., you can just say it’s tremendous. No other group can do that. [Shen Yun] is the best of all performances I have seen. It’s really the best.”
Lee Hong, great granddaughter of Korea's Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong, is also a model and a movie star
Lee Hong, a well-known movie star and model, is also the great granddaughter of Korea’s Emperor Gojong and Empress Myeongseong. She attended Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company's first show in Daegu on January 20.
She was so touched by Shen Yun's performance and atmosphere that she felt as if she were in a dream, a dream that allowed her to experience the 5,000 years of Chinese culture and history.
“The costumes, dance, and orchestral music were very different from Korean art. The show was indeed brilliant and colorful,” said Ms. Lee. What Ms. Lee took away from the show were lessons of love and hope.
“For those who are in danger, we need to provide help and rescue. Even when we are in pain, we should never give up hope,” she said.
Im Kwon-taek, director and a leading figure in the Korean film industry
Im Kwon-taek is a leading figure in the Korean film industry. In his distinguished style, he has made 101 movies, more than anyone else in Korean film history, and received the Geum-Gwan Order of Cultural Merit in 2002, the highest award given by the government to artists.
That same year, he became the first Korean to win Best Director at the Festival De Cannes with his movie Chi-hua-seon. He also received an Honorary Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. He currently teaches at Dongseo University in Busan.
Im was highly impressed by the animated projections on the backdrop and the coordination of the artists, saying, “I want to commend Shen Yun’s stage art, the projection on the background, the background displays, the imposing manner and majestic view of the Qing Dynasty Palace, as well as the lifestyle of the flourishing Tang Dynasty.
“It is fantastic in many different settings! ... The slightest mistake made by the artists when they emerge and enter the background would be very apparent to the audience. However, the artists are so well-trained that they did it easily.”
Im said, “I feel that the Shen Yun show is a must-see.”
“The source of human civilization”
Edward McMillan-Scott, vice president of the European Parliament
Edward McMillan-Scott, vice president of the European Parliament, praised Shen Yun warmly, saying it gave “a fascinating insight into ancient China and showed the beauty of it’s 5,000-year-old culture. Anyone who appreciates the arts cannot fail to be impressed by this remarkable performance.
“It certainly deserves the success it has received in recent years. The China of yesterday is represented by Shen Yun and I hope that it will also be the China of tomorrow. I would encourage everyone to attend this very beautiful and enjoyable show,” he added.
Lord and Lady Parkinson of UK
Lady Parkinson said she thought Shen Yun stood for a “new China, old and new—the great past.” Her husband Lord Parkinson recalled that, during his time as Minister of Energy for the British government, he went to China twice. “So we’ve always been very interested in China," Lord Parkinson said. "But this is a different aspect of China. Just beautiful costumes, beautiful people. The whole evening was delightful.”
Ms. Yang, a Chinese mezzo-soprano, attended the Shen Yun February 19 show in Nashville, Tennessee
Ms. Yang was thrilled after the show and spoke with tears in her eyes, “I am so glad I came! I can't help but cry after seeing the show because I saw the spirit of artists pursuing art with their lives and it has awakened my dream again. After I came to the United States, to make a living, I had to switch careers.
“I was overwhelmed being able to see a grand arts group performing such beautiful, superb, and pure Chinese culture! I have not had dinner tonight, but I am not hungry at all. I am so excited to know that there are still artists like me who are deeply inspired by art.”
“Shen Yun unfolded China's 5,000 years of traditional culture, the authentic art and culture. Shen Yun rediscovered our lost tradition.”
Ms. Yang said that she loved all of Shen Yun's dances. “There are no words in dancing, but Shen Yun's dances expressed the spirit in the stories better than words ever could. They made me want to cry. I cried when I saw the kind of beauty and spirit portrayed in the dance, 'Plum Blossom.'”
Yang was able to name almost all the titles of the individual dances on the program.
She said, “I remembered many of the titles because the dances were so impressive and so beautiful. They were full of traditional charm. Every dance grasps the essence and character of every dynasty or ethnicity. The moves, costumes, the overall performance were exceptional!”
Professor Errol Craig Sull, the founder and president of The Correctional Education Company
Professor Errol Craig Sull, the founder and president of The Correctional Education Company, devotes his life to helping others through his books, seminars, and public speaking.
“The true mission of arts is to expose and introduce people to the world, to other cultures, and to have people better understand the human spirit and what culture is all about,” Professor Sull said.
He noted that Shen Yun “gives the world a chance to know the true China and its independent spirit.”
“Beyond the wonderful artistry and culture, the whole show tells beautiful stories of the human spirit, of justice, and freedom of independence. It also presents an interesting conflict: It has the very tranquil, peaceful, and beautiful China within the last 5,000 years versus the China today, so you have a presentation of what China should be like, what China was like, and the way of China today, which is very oppressive.”
Sull believes that the larger message conveyed by Shen Yun is “also pervasive on a worldwide basis.”
“You can take what happens in Shen Yun and put that in other countries, put it all over the world. Therefore, Shen Yun has become a spokesperson not only for China, but really for the rest of the world.”
Gang Liu, a well-known Chinese dissident and leader of the 1989 student democratic movement, and Dong Lu, spokesman for the Chinese Christian Democratic Party
Gang Liu, a well-known Chinese dissident and leader of the 1989 student democratic movement, said that he was moved to tears after seeing the Shen Yun show on June 23.
He said, “I felt the grace and truth, and felt connected to it. It really touched me. This is the best, traditional Chinese cultural show anywhere. I hope more Chinese people can seethe show and have a bright future. Shen Yun is also the sole hope of the Chinese people.”
Ginka Ortega, a professional flutist, who is especially known for her flamenco playing
"The show is spectacular, and it gave us a chance to see a China that we've never seen before or ever will see,” Ms. Ginka Ortega said. She thought the show's message was one of hope and that this is what sets Shen Yun apart from others shows.
"What is beyond is the hope. We got the message, what the hope is ... we need this hope in this day and age, to be reminded—that hope is beautiful. And in this day and age when everything is so fast, when everything is so mechanical, to see this kind of beauty, for two hours, is like we are all renewed."
She noted that people in the audience were intrinsically different after seeing the show. "We are all different. We are all more beautiful, more loving towards each other. I hope that many, many, many more people will see this show.”
Poet and writer Cyril Dabydeen said Shen Yun was "brilliant and fantastic" after taking in the show in Ottawa
Mr. Dabydeen commented on the divine aspects of ancient Chinese culture that were portrayed in the show, saying, “The divine elements, for me, were the most fantastic things. It put you into a different spiritual world. And I find that very exalting and very fulfilling.”
Dabydeen has seen the show three or four times and said that each time he sees it, he enjoys it even more.
“Tonight I was so pleased there was a standing ovation, which was fantastic. It’s very uplifting,” said Dabydeen, adding, “I would encourage the Ottawa audience to come out in full force again and again. Each time you find something uplifting again and again and again.”
Dabydeen spoke of the sense of renewal and divine presence that the performance conveys. “This show helps us move more and more toward a new world: a world of spirituality and divine things. And that, for me, is so very important.”