Philadelphia: Shen Yun Performing Arts Receives a Long Standing Ovation on Opening Night

By a Clearwisdom correspondent

(Clearwisdom.netShen Yun Performing Arts returned to the historic Merriam Theater in Philadelphia on Friday night, January 6, 2012, with a brand-new production, as part of its 2012 world tour. People from the Greater Philadelphia area and beyond flocked to the venue to learn about traditional Chinese culture and experience the beauty of classical Chinese dance, the hallmark of Shen Yun performances. The evening concluded with a standing ovation lasting through three curtain calls, as the audience enthusiastically expressed its delight and appreciation.

Established in 2006 and based in New York, Shen Yun consists of three companies that tour the world simultaneously in an effort to revive five millennia of China’s rich, divinely inspired cultural heritage though the performing arts.

Friends Drive Two Hours to See Shen Yun

Ms. Elizabeth Martinec, who works for the state, learned of Shen Yun at a recent state convention. She bought tickets as Christmas gifts for two friends and brought them to the show. The three women drove nearly two hours from Harrisburg, PA, to see the opening-night performance.

“I loved it. It was great!” exclaimed Ms. Martinec after the show. “Everything—from the colors of the costumes, to the dances, to the singing, the different stories and the culture—I just loved it all.”

She said she gained a new understanding of the traditional Chinese culture through the performance and noted that the concepts of “spirituality and [distinguishing] right from wrong” presented in the show are also valuable in our Western society today.

Ms. Martinec’s friend, Claudia Madrigal, a program specialist, was equally enthusiastic, calling the evening “A really great, great experience.”

She said she enjoyed “the sharing of the tradition—all of it, all of the dances [and] the tradition that’s actually very rich—and that they were able to bring it out in such a beautiful way.”

Both Ms. Martinec and Ms. Madrigal said they would recommend Shen Yun to their friends and colleagues.

“Everyone should see this performance,” said Ms. Martinec. “Even people who may not [think they are] interested, if they came they would learn something, and I think everyone would enjoy it. It was an amazing show, and I am glad we came.”


Ms. Madrigal, Ms. Martinec, and their friend

Family Thrilled with Shen Yun

Mr. Ken Vollmer, a computer programmer, attended the performance with his wife, son, and daughter. “My wife got us tickets for the holidays,” he explained.

“I loved it. It’s something I’d never seen before. It’s the first time I’ve actually seen all the different cultures [of China],” said Mr. Vollmer, referring to the vast ethnic diversity and history represented in Shen Yun’s performance through classical and folk dance, handcrafted costumes, and digital backdrops.

“I very much loved the classical dance that they have. I really enjoyed it,” Mr. Vollmer continued. His family shared the feeling.

“I’ve laughed, I’ve cried. It’s great!” enthused his daughter, Kaitlyn, a senior in high school. “I laughed at the ‘[Joyful Little] Monks,’ cried at the ‘The Choice,’” she elaborated, referring to a lighthearted dance about playful monks and a story about a tough choice two friends face in modern China.

“I liked the singers, too,” she added, in agreement with her mother, Mrs. Michele Vollmer. “And the hostess and the host were really funny, too,” Kaitlyn said of the Chinese- and English-speaking emcees who introduced each of the performances.

The family was also impressed with the animated, digital backdrops—a modern advancement that Shen Yun has masterfully integrated into its presentation of the legendary stories from China’s rich cultural heritage. “I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Mr. Vollmer. “Very unique,” echoed Mrs. Vollmer, while their son, Kenny, a sixth-grader who was enjoying his first trip to the theater, thought they were “very realistic.”

“I will definitely recommend it to other people,” said Mr. Vollmer of the show. “The dance, the costumes, everything—I think it’s all great. I really, really enjoyed it.”


Mr. Ken Vollmer, Mrs. Michele Vollmer, and their children, Kaitlyn and Kenny

Retired professional: “The orchestra is phenomenal”

Sharon Forman, a retired professional who worked for Verizon, sat near the Vollmers at the venue and shared much of their enthusiasm for the performance.

“The costumes are absolutely gorgeous. The colors are just beautiful,” said Ms. Forman.

She was equally enchanted with the music. “The orchestra is phenomenal!” she exclaimed, impressed by Shen Yun’s unique orchestra that combines both Western and Chinese instruments and performs all-original compositions created specifically for each dance.

“The piano player is out of this world. She is beautiful,” added Ms. Forman, referring to the pianist who accompanied the tenor and soprano soloists featured in the performance.

Tourist Couple: “So glad we had this opportunity”

Dr. Judy Scheatzle, a psychologist, and her husband, Mr. Al Scheatzle, who is retired, discovered Shen Yun on their visit to Philadelphia from Scranton, PA. The couple saw a promotional poster at their hotel and decided not to miss the opportunity to see the performance.

“It’s just so visually beautiful; the colors are so vibrant,” said Dr. Scheatzle. “And the orchestration…everything was just amazing.”

Mr. Scheatzle agreed. “It’s beautiful—really, really nice. The colorful costumes and all of the dancing—really beautiful,” he said.

“The integration of the graphics—I’ve never seen that before. It’s really original,” added Dr. Scheatzle, referring to the synchronization of the animated backdrops with the rest of the performance.

“We are glad we came, so glad we had this opportunity!” she concluded.


Dr. Judy Scheatzle and her husband, Mr. Al Scheatzle

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