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.

Dec 192012

Tis time I take a moment to say Happy holidays and Happy New Year to all those that take the time to read my ramblings. May you all be blessed with cheer, beer and… whatever else you wish for as 2012 comes to an end… and speaking of end.

All is well that ends well and despite ‘end of the world prophesies’, some good things have come out of 2012. We were blessed to have another year of happiness filled with good friends, good music, relaxing times and fabulous dancers of flamenco, belly dance, ballroom, etc. etc. Granted the world has seen a few dark clouds; however there are also plenty of things left to celebrate. Like we’re still here…assuming we are since this gets printed in 2013.

My ability to attend events has been limited recently, but Rachel Reich’s “Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree” was once again a success, gathering plenty of toys to benefit needy children and providing an amazing performance on December 6th.  Rachel and all those kind hearted entertainers that participated and performed for the good of innocents remind us all of the light that exists, even during questionable times.

Now the lovely ladies of that troupe will be dancing their way into the “Birth 2012 Louisville” festival on December 21st and 22nd and continuing to spread good cheer. Unity in Louisville is providing the space and Al Hamsa and Raqia’s Stars will be providing the dancing entertainment Friday at 10 pm and Saturday at 4 pm. Festival goers will be treated to a vibrant display of swirling veils and positive energy as these elegant dancers perform Egyptian, American Tribal, Spanish Arabic fusion and many other styles of dance.

The festivities at Birth 2012 are planned to make every moment a celebration of life via song, dance, meditation and music over the entire 24 hour period. Some of the greatest musicians in Louisville, like Tyrone Cotton and John Gage will be taking the stage and reminding listeners why the blues never gets old. There will also be special meditation and prayer times scheduled throughout the event.

It is time to say goodbye to 2012, and New Year’s Eve has a promising event lined up as the Va Va Vixens will take the stage with Blue Moon Circus at Art Sanctuary. These hoop spinners, belly dancers, and sideshow gurus’ and gals will provide a few hours of rip roaring, Vaudeville style entertainment to greet 2013 and say goodbye to 2012. If you haven’t seen the Vixens… their amusing and exotic antics are sure to offer a unique way of ringing in the New Year.

I prophesize a few more good shows to wrap up 2012 and hope you all have happy and safe holidaze, filled with positive energy.  My fingers are crossed that all comets keep their distance and the world finds a way to make 2013 an even better year.



Oct 172012

Envision a debonair gentleman in a suave tuxedo gently extending a hand to an elegant lady draped in a gown fit for a princess. Next imagine them embracing in a waltz and gracefully moving effortlessly around a gleaming dance floor lit by crystal chandeliers. You are probably thinking of Cinderella, which is close but it is actually a more realistic fairy tale… and a more competitive one.

Ballroom dancing is alive and well in Louisville and anyone in the Galt House on September 29th or 30th can attest to that. Some might have thought a fairy godmother was nearby with all the regal couples about but they were just participants in the U.S. Pro/Am Ballroom Dance Championship.  Dressed like royalty other than the white patches displaying double digits in black on their back, competitors ages 11 to 89 danced the night away to an assortment of Frank Sinatra and classical compositions. There might have even been a few pairs of glass slippers, but rest assured no pumpkin carriages were waiting in the parking garage.

Ballroom dancing is not just for royalty anymore as everyone is encouraged to participate. Once you witness the fun and fantasy behind the event, you might be compelled to step on the dance floor yourself. The U.S. Pro/Am Ballroom Dance Championship has been celebrated since 1973 and takes place in over 35 states and 25 countries worldwide.

The interesting thing about Ballroom dancing is that it is NOT boring. These couples do not just two step across the floor in mundane patterns. The competition is made up of a variety of types of dance including, but not limited to the Foxtrot, Waltz, Cha Cha, Rumba and the passionate Salsa and Tango dances. Each type and style of dance is more passionate than the next. Since it is a competition, the dancers themselves vary in age, style and performance with each couple offering viewers a unique perspective of individuality.

Ballroom Dance with Tango

Ballroom Dance at Galt House

Ballroom dancing is a regal style of dance, but it is also filled with very formal passion. The noble roots bring an air to the dance floor that other styles of dance often lack. Modern ballroom competitions have melded a variety of cultural dances into the original programming to create a more diverse and entertaining atmosphere for dancers and viewers alike.

Ballroom dancing takes us back to a different era when glamor and elegance was at its height in the world. Those looking to step back in time might enjoy checking out the Louisville Ballroom Club for an introduction and instruction to Ballroom Dancing. They actually have monthly events at the Kosair Shrine Temple at 812 South 2nd Street. Dance enthusiasts can acquire information on the dance studios and clubs around town that provide an outlet for the ever expanding ballroom dance community.

What lady doesn’t like to dress up like a princess and be twirled around the dance floor by her prince? Cinderella might have missed the Ball, but thanks to the growing participants locally, there will be plenty more Ballroom dances coming in the future.