May 042013

The actual meaning of Shen Yun is Divine Rhyme, however according to the Shen Yun Performing Arts Group based out of New York it means “the bodies of divine beings dancing” and after witnessing these 400 talented performers on stage, one might start to agree. They are the first performance company to ever take traditional Chinese dance to the stage on a grand scale and their devout focus and mesmerizing talent have been selling out theaters across the country, including in their home city at New York’s Lincoln Center.

The renowned Whitney Hall at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts welcomed Shen Yun on April 30th and brought 5000 years of Chinese history back to life through traditional music, vibrant costumes, back drops, stage props and talented performers.

The elaborate Shen Yun performance took the audience on a journey across the Middle Kingdom facing trials, battles, revelations, love and spiritual connections with the Gods of tradition. Though many of the ancient Gods are now forgotten in China itself, the Shen Yun performers still rise from the earthen grounds into their realm.

Historically, this was only possible if one followed a path of purity, but fortunately for us these performing artists chose to take a path filled with beauty, purity and goodness. Thus, the audience got a glimpse of what the ancients believed to be their ‘heaven’ including the very palaces of the Gods… at least a theatrical version thereof.
When someone takes the stage that truly enjoys and believes in what they do it is obvious in their performance, and the Shen Yun artists are giving long dead traditions a new life. The warriors were fierce, the maidens fair and the celestial beings were heavenly. Each and every performer exhibited the purist form of grace and class on stage. Group movements were fluid with the dancers seemingly connected to the one another and the energy literally flowed into the audience.

The East West Orchestra provides the sound during the performance and is the only known orchestra to combine both eastern and western instruments and compositions. The music itself is powerful and compliments each and every act. The drums, particularly in battle scenes added just the right amount of thunder wherever needed and melodic flutes offered more soothing sounds. It was a perfect collaboration of sight and sound, leading the audience by moment and mood.

As far as the costumes… they were nothing short of amazing with traditional designs and vibrant color combinations. The garments worn by the performers are all handmade and taken from the different dynasties throughout the history of China.

Taking a journey with Shen Yun down the path of Ancient Chinese traditions and beliefs was nothing short of amazing from the stage presence to the energy. I would highly recommend anyone take advantage of an opportunity to see a performance of the “bodies of divine beings dancing”.

Shen Yun will also be appearing in Louisville at Whitney Hall on May 1st before moving on to the next city.

Mar 232013

This year marked the seven year itch for March Madness in Louisville, but not in regards to the Cardinals. You might be shocked to learn there is more to March than basketball at the University of Louisville. Well, maybe not… but the true shock is the lack of attention some noteworthy events receive. The University of Louisville’s 7th Annual Dance Marathon on March 23rd was such an event.

For those unfamiliar with this less publicized and somewhat more artistic marathon, the first March Madness dance marathon was initiated by a group of students wanting to make a difference and support the local Kosair Children’s Hospital. They accomplished this by orchestrating a good, old fashioned dance marathon in 2006. The participating couples wore numbers and danced for hours, with the last on the floor winning, aka raising the most. The donation is made via the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

The University Of Louisville Dance Marathon 2013 was sponsored by Chili’s and drew more than 300 students to the Universities Student Activities Center on March 23rd, with many being repeat participants. Couples danced as part of a team and were assigned a specific color t-shirt along with their individual ‘duet’ number. A trio of DJ’s spun from a list of desirable dance tunes (student wise) and the teams moved with the flow of the beat (or the one in their head) for as long as they could.

The team t-shirt is a requirement for the students but otherwise the dress code is casual and up for interpretation. This is an open invite for some college style creativity to emphasize team color and style. Every ULDM brings more vibrantly colorful leggings, tutus, overalls, feathers, fake fur, ribbons, wigs and sneakers out on the dance floor. The open artistic encouragement helps increase the enthusiasm amongst the students, sponsors and spectators as fans of specific teams cheer their support. Realistically, as the evening hours wane into the morning, some grow weary but many of these students dance well past dawn.

It is not necessarily their ‘talent’ that draws applause for these dancers but more so their creative expression and physical endurance for a good cause. The participation increases yearly at this ‘dance for charity’ event as previous participants and committee members spread the word amongst enthusiastic new students. The University Of Louisville Dance Marathon has raised and benefited the needy children of Kosair in funds exceeding $300,000 up to date according to Amanda Current, Special Events Manager at the Children’s Hospital Foundation.


Now that the Madness of March has left us and we’ve made it past April’s noted day for fools, here are a few upcoming events that will give you a reason to venture out amongst the upcoming showers:

Celtic Woman will bring a taste of the Irish to the Louisville Palace on April 24th.

Shen Yun interprets 5000 years of Chinese culture via dance, theatre and music at 501 West Main on April 30th and May 1st starting at 7:30 pm.