Several weeks ago, when I met my dear friend Ms. Linda Nagamine @ Honolulu Safeway supermarket, there was a booth set up outside of the entrance advertising the Shen Yun Performing Arts annual performance. I had seen a show by this New York base performing arts troupe about six years ago @ the Honolulu Blaisdell Concert Hall. The reasons I'm drawn to this type of Chinese dance performances are:
a) I like to support artistic cultural performances of all types;
I learn plenty about a culture through their performing arts, especially through dance. This art form reflects and relates stories about the race's cultural heritage which provides the backbone for future advancement of that culture. Through dance, I'm able to experience the traditions and history that culture or group is experiencing or had experienced.
In the case of Shen Yun, this idealistic almost propaganda portraiyal of precultural China Revolution dances from passed dynasties and 'in your face' religious persecutions of the Falun Dafa Association were extremely prevalent. To me this show is positively designed/executed as a recruitment propaganda tool for this above mentioned organisation. Heavily disguised as a Chinese traditional cultural performing music, song, and dance troupe. The underlying messages from each segment remained unchanged - which is 'join us to promote the Falun Dafa religious believes - because we are persecuted by the China government'.
b) Through different perfoming arts performances, developments for my next creative inspiration takes shape & form;
Majority of artists are influenced by visuals of all artistic expressions. It maybe through dance movements, costumes, set deigns, lighting effects, music selections, audiance participations/reactions, etc all contribute and plant seeds for my future artistic endevours. The more I see, experience and learn - the greater amount of knowledge I'll gather and store in my concious + sub-concious memories which will then manifest in my creative work at a later stage. It may eventually appear as inspirations for a new line in my fashion collections or it may influence my next wave of paintings/artworks, or it may also develop as my creative inspirational writings . Each and every visual experiences are of tremendous value to me because I'm contantly absorbing/learning everything that will eventually manifest in my numerous life's visual paths.
According to the promotional flyer for the Shen Yun perfomaning arts - it reads;
Shen Yun has graced some the most prestigious stages in the world, from San Francisco to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Based in New York, the company seeks to present the true culture of China's 5,000 year old civilization, which has sadly been decimated by decades of communist rule in modern-day China.
Classical Chinese Dance - One of the most demanding art forms in the world
No other art form in the world boosts such strong expressive qualities and diversity of technique as classical Chinese dance. With over 20 dynasties and 50 ethnic groups to draw upon, Shen Yun portrays an astounding range on stage. The show's colorful folk and ethnic pieces can take audiances from the northern steppes of Mongolia to the lush green forests of Yunnan. Meanwhile, the dramatic story-based dances bring to life ancient legends like those of heroine Mulan and General Due Fei, as well as modern-day stories like the tragic persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in China.
Two Great Musical Traditions - One fresh unexpected sound
Featuring both Chinese & Western instruments, the Shen Yun performaning arts orchestra brings together two of the world's greatest classical music traditions. The result? A fresh and mesmerizing sound. Each season, the choreographers work closely with the composers to custom tailor each musical piece to the nuances of each dance. Over 20 new scores are produced every year. Renwed soloists also take the stage with songs that speak to iniversal themes and time honored values.
A Performance 5,000 Years in the making
In many ways, a performance by Shen Yun is traditional Chinese culture as it was meant to be: a study in grace, wisdom, and vitures distilled from millennia of Chinese civilization. There was a time when China was known as The Land of the Divine because its arts and cultural were so exquisite and so vibrant that they could only have been bestowed by the heavens. To be worthy of such gifts, the people of the land strove to hold themselves to a bhigh standard. Today, the artists of Shen Yun follow in this noble tradition, taking us out of the glamor of the modern world with an experience of the utmost purity and grace.
After viewing this flamboyant performance, I came to the conclusion that the show itself was dated and requires much modernization. There was not much difference between the show I saw 6 years ago to this recent production. I came out of the theatre disappointed and saddened by the fact that with so many talented perfomers, dancers, singers - these artists could have achieve much more than what was being presented at this show. The cheographers of this performance definately need to review what is currently out in the international perfomaing arts market place for similar kinds of shows. To improve and update all catagories of their presentations. I have seen much improved versions of these types of productions in mainland China. The advanced modern technology applications in the China shows are infinately more superior than the Shen Yun. My last word on this show - too much of the same opulant Rah-Rah sets, costumes, cheoragraphies, music and all that jazz!!!!!!!! My advise - simplify, clean-up the acts to reflect the demands of 2011 audiances. Last but not less - modernize the show and make it a cutting edge performance!