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.