(Clearwisdom.net) Melbourne, the fashion, food and culture capital of Australia, welcomed the New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts show with much warmth in the glorious Regent Theatre from March 1 to 6, 2011. Shen Yun is a presentation of traditional Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, and virtues distilled from the five millennia of Chinese civilization.
The final Shen Yun show in Melbourne, Australia concluded on March 6, 2011
“The quality of the performance is absolutely stunning.” – Douglas Heywood OAM, orchestral and choral conductor
Douglas Heywood and Mrs. Heywood at the Regent Theatre, in Melbourne, on March 4.
Melbourne’s eminent orchestral and choral conductor, Douglas Heywood OAM joined the audience at the Regent Theatre in a standing ovation for the Shen Yun Performing Arts show.
An exuberant Mr. Heywood said after the show: “I thought it was fantastic. I loved the energy of the dancing, I loved the symmetry. I loved the message behind the dances. I loved the sound of the orchestra. And just the whole general theme through the show of honesty and of peace and of the fact that you can live in harmony, I thought it was wonderful. I was blown away. I didn’t know what to expect, and to come here and see the quality of the performance is absolutely stunning.”
Mr. Heywood also commented on the overall effect of the show and the lingering feeling of peace that he was experiencing. “I’m a musician and a conductor. I’ve done lots of shows and seen lots of shows, I suppose that gives me some insight into what’s behind it. And what I thought was, the sincerity of the performance through the artists, not only through the artists, through the colour, through the use of the images on the backdrop, were quite stunning and the whole show from beginning to end had a sense of calmness in the message. I’m going away feeling quite calm and relaxed. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Mr. Heywood.
He also remarked on the variety of emotions that were invoked by the dances and the music, “recognizing the anguish of the teacher trying to teach, the anguish of the mother losing her son, those were quite powerfully portrayed. And they were portrayed not only by the dancing, but also by the orchestra and the music behind it. Very powerful moments.”
On the other hand, he said: “And also you had the comedy with the monkey and the wayward monk. (The Monkey King Outwits Pigsy and The Heroic Lu Zhishen) I thought it was just, all the contrasts in this show were wonderful, they really were.”
In the dance about the wayward monk to which Mr. Heywood referred, The Heroic Lu Zhishen, Lu is expelled from his Buddhist temple for drunkenly knocking down some of his fellow monks. Yet he reveals courage and altruism when bandits attack a group of travelers.
Douglas Heywood was one of Melbourne’s most sought-after Baritone soloists in 1966 and is now a Musical Director, orchestral conductor and university lecturer in music and education. He was awarded an OAM for his services to community music and music education.
Shen Yun impresses star of popular musical
Among the audience was Lochlan Denholm, the young star in the Australian version of the popular musical Billy Elliot.
The young dancer and actor found Shen Yun “pretty amazing” and having performed a leading male role, particularly noted the strength of the Shen Yun dance performances. “I really liked the male performances, not to say that I didn’t like the female performances,” he said, adding, “I was drawn to the male performances, especially the warrior performances.”
“I also enjoyed the flower, the plum blossom performance and the really … military like elements,” he said. Billy Elliot was the title character in a film about a boy from a northern English mining town, who battles his background, family and his own demons, to become a leading ballet dancer. The film was made into a musical with songs by Elton John.
Speaking from his experience as a dancer, Lochlan noted the ability of the dancers in Shen Yun to move in seamless unison an the difficulty of achieving that in such large numbers.
“I was really impressed by the choreography and especially how many people were on the stage at once in some of those scenes. I mean, getting three people to do that stuff is hard,” he said.
The special effects and the digital screens had also been impressive. “I really liked the special effects, they really added and emphasized certain elements. For instance, the lightning strikes when the policeman were coming … really good, fascinating. It was really good, I really enjoyed it.”
Although Lochlan was not familiar with Chinese culture or history, he found the experience enriching and unexpected. “I am really new to it all, I really don’t have much Chinese background, I just haven’t done much Chinese history but I found it all really interesting and specially remembering those monks scenes, that was really interesting.”
In the Little Mischievous Monks, the young monks are caught surrendering to their more playful side amidst their discipline of their spiritual practice.
All in all, Lochlan said that Shen Yun had been “an amazing ride through culture.” “Really interesting … an eye opener,” the young dancer said.
Accompanying Lochlan were school friends Christie Doolin and Michael Goldring.
Christie was interested in the different levels touched upon in the Shen Yun performance, particularly the perspectives on Chinese culture.
“I think it is really good how we get an insight into what they have to deal with in their culture and their history,” he said.
He noted the scenes of persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China which continues still, after ten years, in China today. “I thought it was very good. There was a lot about stuff that is not really publicized or anything, so it is really good to see that and get the point of view about what they have to deal with, going through all the persecution and all that,” he said.
Michael Goldring said he has seen Shen Yun every year for the last three years. “I really love this show. I come every year.” “It is exciting. I like it.”
“Magical” – singer with the Melbourne Philharmonic Choir
Diana Fogl, a business woman and singer with the Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, was glad to be in the audience. “I loved the show, I loved the colors, especially.”
Ms. Fogl said as a singer she appreciated the skill of the Shen Yun opera singers, and noted the overall momentum and beauty of the show. “I think it was very well co-ordinated,” she said,
“It was mind boggling all the choreography, I can imagine how much they rehearsed, but just how somebody thought of all the different steps and combinations, I thought that was amazing.” Ms. Fogl loved the colors saying, “the colors stood out the most, the combination of colors”.
She said Shen Yun had given her hints about life. “I got the message that life is beautiful and energetic,” she said, adding, “also, I suppose I’m surprised that in China they don’t perform it.” Shen Yun had been “magical and “absorbing” for her, she said. “Just the beauty of it was fantastic … really well done”.
Ms. Fogl was at Shen Yun with her friend Rosemary, a health food practitioner. Rosemary had also been buoyed by seeing Shen Yun. “I thought it was wonderful. I loved the music, I loved the color.”
Rosemary said she and Ms. Fogl had loved the act Plum Blossom, adding: “but we also loved the contrast of the Mongolian dancers, strong men dancing, and then the very delicate women with colors. Beautiful.” She thought the show had a message of strength “an elegant strength.” and added “We’ve learnt a lot. Some of it, not verbal, internally, you learn a feeling, you get a feeling of the culture.”
The Boyd family was overwhelmed by the beauty and skill of the performance
The matinee show on Sunday, March 6 left Ms. Boyd, a ballet teacher, her 16-year-old son, Gus, and her daughter, Bessy, excited.
The performance by the New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company was so beautiful that she felt she wanted to be one of the dancers, Ms. Boyd said. She was left breathless by the beautiful colors, the set, and sound, all of which she described as “exquisite” and “very uplifting.” The athleticism of the dancers was also amazing, she said, recalling their outstanding jumps.
“It made me want to go out and learn, to feel that beautiful, because they all looked like they felt so beautiful when they danced,” she said.
Commenting further on the Shen Yun dancers, she noted their beautiful technique, particularly the exquisite upper-body technique: “Such strength and placement.” The high leaps performed by the male dancers and their flexibility astounded her son, Gus. “He said he wants to go and learn [classical Chinese Dance] now,” Ms. Boyd said.
Ms. Boyd was impressed by the stories that for her carried a strong, “very light-filled” message.
Chinese audience: Essence of Chinese traditional culture
Mr. Jie Yuan, the Editor-in-Chief of Tiananmen Times, a Chinese newspaper in Melbourne, comes to watch Shen Yun every year. He said the reason he liked Shen Yun was “Shen Yun’s programs are clean and pure Chinese culture.”
For the show, Mr. Yuan said he was touched by the purity of the whole show. “The essence of the five millennium Chinese culture is included in Shen Yun. There is no politics or party trace. It is a true art and cultural performance.” He said, “Chinese traditional culture is natural, real, kind, and uplifting, as well as modest.”
Instructor from a Chinese university: The beauty of serenity
Mr. Yang, from China, has been in Australia for six months. He was an instructor at a Chinese university, senior financial adviser, editor of a finance magazine and a specialist in finance and tax issues. After watching the second Shen Yun show, he said, “Shen Yun led me to understand, in its serenity, where human beings are from, why we have come to this world is, and what our destiny is. Humans are from heaven and have descended to this world. Don’t waste this life. Don’t forget the way to return.”
A member of the older generation and well-educated, Mr. Yang said, “Chinese traditional culture stresses the integrity of heaven and humans and appreciates nature. The books we read include education of traditional culture. But now there is little education in traditional culture. During the Cultural Revolution, natural beauty and art were destroyed. When I was a child, I could see green mountains and clean water. Now, all are damaged or contaminated. Beautiful things are destroyed.”
Mr. Yang said, “First of all, Shen Yun is beautiful, including the art, backdrops, stage colors, the dancing and music. It is beautiful, making one feel serene.
“The natural scenery we saw on the Shen Yun backdrops looks like a fairyland. Now, such beautiful scenes are not available in China. But we see it on stage. It reminds me of the fairyland I knew when I was a child. The colors are beautiful, making one feel serene.
“The dancing is beautiful. For example, the fairy dancing in the first number. It was so beautiful and serene. The dancing of the ladies of the Qing and Tang Dynasties is beautiful. Each dance is so beautiful that it is transcendent.
“The music is beautiful. This music is traditional Chinese music. Such beautiful music can only be from heaven, and is difficult to find in the human world.”
Chinese version available at