At the New York-based dance company’s opening night show at Place Des Arts on Friday, January 7
Member of Parliament: Shen Yun’s dancing “absolutely meticulous and perfect!”
Serge Menard, a former minister in Quebec’s provincial legislature and current Federal Member of Parliament
Serge Menard, a former minister in Quebec’s provincial legislature and current Federal Member of Parliament, was one of many distinguished guests at the show.
“I was expecting a lot, and I was not disappointed,” said Mr. Menard. “Perfection, color, more than this. … The timing of the ensemble is absolutely perfect. It’s spectacular … It’s the precision and also the game of colors, with the dancers and their perfection.
“I have seen shows with Chinese performers and Chinese style before, but not to this quality … they were never developed like this [Shen Yun],” he explained.
“Here we can feel that we’ve been given thousands of years of traditions, which is much earlier than the Communist existence. But the Chinese tradition was destroyed by the Cultural Revolution, and those who went through the Cultural Revolution, their culture was destroyed too. That’s a loss,” said Mr. Menard.
The Cultural Revolution was one among many violent social movements and bloody political campaigns that the Chinese Communist Party carried out in China.
Mr. Menard said that Shen Yun was a source of inspiration, beauty, and hope for the Chinese people.
“The dancing, the costumes, and the music were just quite far from what we’re used to,” he said, adding, “There were so many beautiful numbers … many of them I’d like to see last longer.”
Mr. Menard commented on the dance sets, saying they were “so beautiful and extraordinary” “They must have put in years of practice to attain this perfection. It was extraordinary when they had the fairies,” he said, referring to one of the dances with a heavenly setting. The choreography and execution is absolutely meticulous and perfect!”
Top Canadian designer finds message of freedom in the face of oppression
Mr. Helmer said variations on themes play out in Shen Yun each year, and each year they are different.
Joseph Helmer, one of Canada’s foremost fashion designers, was also in the audience.
Mr. Helmer talked about how the dances touched upon the lack of freedom and oppression in China, today. He also mentioned that a sense of freedom could be found by following one’s beliefs even when the consequences can be severe. “We can feel that [Falun Gong practitioners] are not free to do what they want in China. Behind this freedom, there’s no aggression, but there is no obedience either.”
One dance portrays a young man being persecuted in China for exercising his freedom of expression when he chooses to hold up a banner that reads “Falun Dafa Is Good.”
Mr. Helmer felt both the sadness faced by those hurt by China’s authoritarian regime and also the hope that comes from the belief that goodness ultimately prevails. “This is what I’m feeling at times, too. They do it gently, with a smile,” he said.
He noted that each year Shen Yun touches upon this same theme, but the dances are always different. “They use a lot of themes related to life, flowers, dance, clouds … there is no aggressiveness or violence. It was very good.”
Mr. Helmer thought the costumes were “very creative,” adding, “We could feel the professionalism.”
Executive-Director: “We have to see [Shen Yun] at least two times!”
Mr. and Mrs. Tessier were impressed by the Shen Yun show at Place des Arts on Sunday afternoon.
Serge Tessier, executive director of Saint-Jérôme, an institute of higher education in Quebec, attended the show with his wife.
“We are very impressed. We like it very much, very much. It’s fantastic,” he said.
“The dancers are extraordinary. The dancers, the costumes, the scenic backdrops—they take me on a journey,” said Mrs. Tessier.
“We like everything in the show. We went from surprise to surprise to surprise,” Mr. Tessier said at intermission. “We look forward to seeing the next set of performances.”
He was impressed by how the many different facets of the show came together in perfect harmony. “You have the story, you have the multimedia effects, you have the dancers, you have the singers. There are many things to hear and see. So it goes fast.”
Mr. Tessier also enjoyed the world-class tenors and sopranos, as well as the accompanying orchestra and its ability to seamlessly combine Western and Chinese instruments. “The first word that comes to my mind when we speak about the music is ‘perfection.’ The songs are clear, it’s perfect, it’s perfect. No. 1.”
He remarked that seeing the show just once was not enough. “That kind of show, we have to see at least two times. We are so impressed by this show. We have to process it,” he added.
Quebec actress: Shen Yun “is something that really elevates the soul”
Quebec actress Anne Letourneau attended the Shen Yun matinee with her husband, John Gillard, and their daughter, Lili Mei
Anne Létourneau, a famous Quebec actress, director, and writer, attended the show with her husband and daughter.
Although she has seen Shen Yun Performing Arts five years in a row, her love of the show has not diminished. “I am really a fan. I absolutely love this show and I recommend it to everybody, for it’s one of the highlights of the New Year.
“In my work, I use a lot of influences of ethnic dances, Indian and Chinese as well, so I am always fascinated by the quality of the dancing and the beauty of the costumes in this show. It’s truly extraordinary. [Performing] is something close to my heart, and I can really relate to what [Shen Yun] is doing,” Ms. Létourneau said.
“I think the artistry, I mean the dancing, there is so much precision, so much grace, so much beauty, and I think that the blend of ancient technique, mixed with the animated backdrop, makes it a really special show.
“I think it can be enjoyed by everybody. You don’t have to be an expert in dancing or Chinese culture. It’s full of joy, and the story is presented in a simple way. My daughter has been coming to see the show since she was six years old.”
Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the spirit of traditional Chinese culture, which has been virtually wiped out by the Chinese Communist regime.
“I think that this kind of show is very important not only because of the beauty of what you see, and the execution, but also because of the messages that are behind it, which is truth, compassion, and tolerance,” said Ms. Létourneau. “I think it’s a show that can really bring you to another level in your life, especially when it’s now in the New Year, to reflect a little more about how you can be maybe a better human being.”
Ms. Létourneau spoke about the unique interaction of the sound and color in the show. “You know that sound and color is frequency, and I think nobody does it better than Shen Yun as far as mixing the colors together with the sound. So it’s not only a feast for the eyes, it’s something that really elevates the soul, because the level of artistry is so out there that is much more than meets the eye, and there are frequencies and amazing sounds and levels of colors that stay in your head for days and days afterward.
“It was like a 360-degree global spectacle, it was really truly an experience, much more than sitting down and enjoying beautiful dancing,” she explained.
Both Ms. Létourneau and her husband, John Gillard, really enjoyed “Plum Blossoms,” which tells the story of the brave flowers that bloom even in the harshest winter weather and symbolize hope in China.
“It’s radiantly beautiful. The plum blossom piece was the most beautiful piece I’ve ever seen. We’ve seen lots of things, and this was magnificent, absolutely beautiful,” said Mr. Gillard.
“It was so exquisite; the color is exquisite and the sound is exquisite. Nobody does it better than Shen Yun—to mix and achieve this amazing bouquet of sounds,” added Ms. Létourneau.
In talking about Chinese traditional culture, Mr. Gillard said Shen Yun “manages to bring both music and historic themes back into the present, which is wonderful. I think the message is that this long and wonderful and beautiful Chinese tradition needs to be preciously preserved. And that’s why we are all here, supporting the show. And Anne, of course, was trying to promote it with the hope that with time, the political view in China will be more accepting. I think the show is visually one of the most beautiful shows, artistically most gracious, with a profound message to take home.”
Motivational Speaker: “Good always comes out on top”
Jean-Marc Chaput, a leading motivational speaker
Jean-Marc Chaput, a leading motivational speaker, said that what resonated the most with him about Shen Yun, was the theme of good triumphing over adversity.
“My experience of the show is that, for me, after 5,000 years of civilization, it’s surprising to find that you come back to the very basic things,” he said. “The flowers, there’s no words, but just to see flowers like that, I think that’s spring, that’s the whole life, and the whole thing is based on the fact that nothing can go wrong. Good always comes out on top.”
He was referring to the dance “Plum Blossom,” which celebrates the delicate and resilient small flower that blooms even in snow and wind, never wilting or losing its beauty.
Mr. Chaput noted, “If there’s something that goes wrong, something comes from the sky and it corrects the whole thing. So this is what impresses me the most, because for me, it’s a new experience. I’m not used to that. It’s completely new.”
He was also impressed by the Shen Yun orchestra, saying, “The music is wonderful, it’s different sounds. I like classical music, Chopin in particular,” adding that his wife was also impressed by the erhu. “This instrument they played, the Chinese instrument—my wife has studied violin for eleven years and she says it’s incredible to see how this instrument talks and speaks and sounds different. And it’s so broad, it’s really wonderful.”
Mr. Chaput is a human relations specialist, management adviser, Harvard alumni and professor, a Canadian Professional Sales Association Hall of Fame inductee, and author of the best-selling book, Living is Selling.
“For a French Canadian born in Canada who has lived in Montreal all his life, who’s 80 years old, it’s completely different, I can assure you,” said Mr. Chaput of Shen Yun.
“I felt a lot of joy,” he added.
He said he would recommend Shen Yun to his friends “for a brand-new experience.”
Chinese version available at http://www.minghui.org/mh/articles/2011/1/12/234811.html