Audience members queued up outside the Boch Center of Boston’s historic Wang Theater on New Year’s Eve to see Shen Yun for a final matinee, the last of five fully attended Boston shows, and part of the beginning of an all-new world tour. According to its official introduction, Shen Yun is “the world’s premier classical Chinese dance company … bringing to life a lost culture through beautiful art.”
The site describes the experience of Shen Yun as “a revival of the beauty and goodness of China before communism. With stories and legends, vibrant costumes and backdrops, original music and a few fun surprises….”
Many theatergoers were attending Shen Yun for the first time, while some returned to bring family and friends to see the show. The artists of Shen Yun performed before a packed house and were met with thunderous applause.
Founded in 2006 and based in upstate New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts has established itself as the leader in Chinese classical dance, which has a tradition of several thousand years and is closely linked with the martial arts.
Due to its depictions of traditional faiths and the tyranny of the communist Chinese regime, Shen Yun is yet to be able to perform in mainland China or Hong Kong, but is enjoyed by millions of theatergoers yearly across multiple continents.
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Mike Shula of Reading is a supply chain manager at Massachusetts General Hospital, a leading research institution that was voted the foremost hospital in New England. During the intermission, he spoke with Vision Times about his impression of the show, which he attended with a friend.
“It was really interesting. Very, very interesting,” he said. “The beauty of the dance is just incredible. The timing is amazing. Everything is so synchronous…The colors and the backgrounds were beautiful. And the special effects were amazing!”
Shula was commenting on Shen Yun’s innovative 3D projection that “instantly puts you on the scene,” according to the program.
“That caught me off-guard. I really liked that — I’m glad I came. It was shocking; I wasn’t expecting that. Really a nice addition.”
Shula also remarked upon tenor Gu Yun’s performance of the song “Thoughts Block the Way” — accompanied by pianist Zilin Gao — finding it “really moving.” “I didn’t think there were any [other] vocals at all in the show, so I was pleasantly surprised. His voice! And the subtitles helped.”
As for how he learned of the show, Mr. Shula found it online: “I just saw it and said, aw, she’d like this.” “She really likes is so far,” he said, referring to his companion who declined to give her name.
A daughter’s birthday discovery brings delight to the whole family
Terri from Braintree shared that in one word, she would sum up Shen Yun as “amazing.”
“Just the dancing in general is beautiful…the costumes were amazing.” She also found the dancers’ classical and athletic aerial techniques to be remarkable.
According to the Shen Yun program book, classical Chinese dance is “one of humanity’s great treasures,” an “incredibly athletic and expressive dance form,” that has been sustained through millennia “through folk traditions, imperial court performances, and ancient theater. Dynasty after dynasty it was enriched and refined….”
Terri watched her two young grandchildren joyfully in the lobby after the show, explaining, “My daughter got us tickets, for all of us to come.”
Her daughter, Haley, summed up the family’s experience of Shen Yun: “We loved it, we loved it. I had seen the show. I got tickets for myself for my birthday a few years ago and I loved it so much I knew my children need to have this experience: they needed to learn about China from the people who should tell the story.”
According to their grandmother, Terri, the young children thoroughly enjoyed the experience, with her grandson explaining, “We loved it a lot,” and continuing in frank tone: “It was kind of inspiring.” The younger granddaughter interjected, “And I really liked the singing!”
‘You have to come and see it!‘
Vision Times also spoke with Amy and Kern Mondesir, who both work for a non-profit agency supporting adults with development and physical disabilities.
Mr. Mondesir paused to think of the right words to describe Shen Yun, before saying that he and his wife had waited for the show “for too long” — and that it was “just beautiful!”
Mrs. Mondesir added that she found Shen Yun beautiful “and very educational also at the same time. You learn so much.” Her husband agreed and said it makes him feel a love for China.
Mrs. Mondesir said that they had never seen Shen Yun before, but had found out about it through commercials.
According to the Shen Yun program notes from the theater, the all-new show each year is “an enormous artistic undertaking”, in which “Every year, we premiere a brand-new performance, complete with new works of choreography and orchestral music, as well as new costumes, digital backdrops, and storylines.”
As for what they would tell a friend about Shen Yun — “You have to come and see it,” said Mr. Mondesir. His wife agreed: “You have to just have the experience. You can’t explain it.
You have to feel — just feel — the experience. It’s not something that you can really explain — of how beautiful and interesting it is. You have to just be there!”
Reporting by Vision Times contributor Kalina Valquery. For a list of upcoming Shen Yun performances and tickets, visit https://www.shenyun.com/tickets.