5/2/2016 12:22:32 PM
Subject: Shen Yun review
This last week I had the opportunity to go see a show called Shen Yun. It is put on by a Chinese dance organization that bases out of New York. My sister, Mom and I went excited to see all the amazing native dancing and honestly wondering at the mystery of why it is banned in China. When the show began, we were delighted by the orchestra playing beautifully. The dancers were amazing and beautiful. They went through their list of dances. Since I had learned some information about the Tang dynasty, I was happy they included a dance from that time period. There were six types of performances. Chinese dance stories, Classical Chinese dances, Ethnic Dances, Folk Dances, Songs by singers and Chinese instruments.
The dances that told a story included “Salvation and Renewal” which was a dance story with Buddha looking on. “Monkey King and the Dragon Palace” Which was a playful and funny story. “Monks and the Red Guards” A dance, very political against the Chinese Communist Party. This dance story would definitely not be taken well in current China. “The Steadfast heart” This dance was about a religion called Falun Dafa. It showed how people practicing this religion are persecuted in China. Again, not a thing China would want broadcasted to its citizens. “Defending the Throne” This dance told the story of the Qing Dynasty. It told of how the ruler was just a child. A powerful general tried to overtake him, but could not. “The Lady of the Moon” is a retelling of a legend depicting the origins of the moon goddess Chang’E. “Hope for the Future” Again this is revisiting the religion of Falun Dafa. Showing the Chinese soldiers persecuting the members, but the members ascending to the heavens.
There were also many classical Chinese Dances. I enjoyed these the most. “Tang Dynasty Grace” showed a beautiful dance of this Dynasty. “Poets of the Orchid Pavilion” This dance was set in the year 353. It depicts a scholar’s drinking game. Whenever a cup stopped in front of you, you had to empty it, and compose a poem. “Manchurian Maidens” A dance set during the Qing Dynasty. Maidens performing a court dance. “Faires of the Sea” was my favorite dance of all. It was stunning! It tells of an ancient Chinese legend telling of sea fairies. “Sleeves of the Sui Dynasty” was amazing because of the skill it took to keep the sleeves dancing the whole dance. It was very beautiful. “The Mystical Udumbara” Udumbara is a flower that is said to bloom once every three thousand years. It is Ancient Buddhist Scripture.
There were two ethnic dances. The first, “Celebrating the Divine” was set in the Himalayas and was an energetic dance involving khata, scarves, a traditional Tibetan dance. The second was “Drums of the Grasslands.” This involved drums and represented Mongolian men.
There were also two folk dances. “A joyful Harvest” is a Rice Sprout Song, most commonly seen in Northern China’s countryside. “Handkerchiefs” shows a group of ladies, during a full moon, celebrating their own fireworks with handkerchiefs.
The songs by a tenor and a soprano were very interesting. I found them very religious in nature. I felt like they were promoting the religion of Falun Dafa along with the other dances. They definitely had an agenda with the music choices.
Finally, they highlighted the playing of a erhu. This was absolutely amazing. The fact that it has only two strings, but can be played so beautifully. I loved this piece.
Overall this performance was great. It was a sold out show and truly showcased some amazing Chinese culture through dance. I did feel extreme religious overtones however.
edited by cgao on 5/2/2016
6/24/2016 2:29:30 PM
Wow, thank you for posting this. I really wanted to go see Shen Yun, I had a friend from college who went to see it as well. I really enjoyed reading your description, while I realize that it can never actually make up for not going I feel like you explained about a the dance performances and the stories that they told. I feel like this was a really awesome experience and if they come again I will see it!