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Theatre Review | Shen Yun

Shen Yun

It has taken 5,000 years of Chinese culture, and it’s finally here.

In the last nine years, this non-profit, independent, New York-based performing arts company, Shen Yun, has been taking Chinese culture with the world.

The company of around eighty Chinese dancers, musicians and singers are brought in from around globe to form this unique company.

The two masters of ceremonies, in evening wear, very formally introduce twenty separate dance routines and songs. The sopranos, Haolan Geng and Tianling Song have powerful voices that are not short on vibrato, as is the style, but it’s the dancers that provide the spectacular visual experiences.

Each dance routine is a performance in itself and combines gymnastics, classical ballet and even a hint of martial arts. The enchainments of stage-devouring leaps are breath-taking and to have forty dancers on stage at the same time, performing back flips and cartwheels without using their hands is impressive. On the massive Capitol Theatre cyclorama are projected animated scenes that remind me of the backgrounds Japanese video games, but on a huge scale.

One favourite scene is Sleeves of Grace in which the female dancers perform gymnastic stunts and difficult dance moves in flowing gowns and two-metre-long sleeves. How do maintain that poise? Other scenes that stand out are Mighty Monk, Outlaw of Mt. Liang, Monkey King and The Skeleton Demon, Spirit of The Yi and The Divine Renaissance Begins.

The other interesting element in this production is the orchestra, which combines traditional Western orchestral sections with such traditional Chinese instruments as the pipa, the erhu and the shona and a variety of Chinese percussion instruments.

Shen Yun has gained so much popularity that there are now four Shen Yun companies performing around the world. Fortunately, one of them is in Australia.

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