Dance is an important function of a culture. It serves as a way of showcasing identity. This is especially true for Classical Chinese dance, which has multiple forms. These different forms of dancing have long histories that date back thousands of years. In modern China, these dances continue to flourish. However, time has diminished its true form. Among the performance art organizations that continue to expand the relevance of classical Chinese dance is Shen Yun Performing Arts. The organization is the prime group that brings the treasured dances to the international stage. The way they do so is extraordinary and a dedicated celebration of thousands of years of Chinese dance. Their exquisite performance will be experienced at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center this month of love.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Tickets
“An explosion of color and sound… Chinese culture in its fullest flower.” – Charlotte Observer
“Life affirming and life-changing… It’s an experience that will stay with you long after the final curtain.” – Stage Whispers
The Shen Yun Performing Arts preserve the teachings of Classical China through dance. This era is known for philosophic advancements and highly held etiquette and traditions. Due to this, the dances were influenced by their exertion of elegance, poise, and discipline. Movements that portrayed gold-standard behaviors during that time were common. The Han Chinese are the group that is attributed to being the source of the many folk dances that continue to be relevant today. Many of these dances were ceremonial or ritualistic. Bountiful harvests and hunting are the most common subjects of these dances. Other performances and styles are noted among the multiple ethnic minority groups.
When the founders of the performing arts organization moved to the US, they were compelled to present these unique and beautiful dances and bring Chinese stories to light. They were disillusioned with modern China with the way how these dances are being tweaked or changed, diluting their essence. The mission is to bring classical Chinese dance back to its former glory and expose the world to it.
The year 2006 was when the founders felt like the conception of the organization was at its dawn. Behind its development are the Falun Gong followers. The religious movement rose in the 2000s, and it came with a need to reach more people. They called it Shen Yun, based on the phrase “beauty of divine beings dancing,” which holds with the type of performances they would then produce. Shen Yun became an ambitious and large outreach organization of Falun Gong alongside the media organization called The Epoch Times.
To reach the prestige that Shen Yun holds today, they began to do big actions. They took advantage of the sudden surge of migration in the 2000s. As many people leave or are expatriated (banished) from China, they recruit those who have expertise in traditional dance, music, and costumes. The year that followed was monumental as the organization started training dancers for its first-ever company. They then took a larger step when they launched the Fei Tian Academy of the Arts and Fei Tian College. The first one serves as a primary and secondary school, teaching dance and music to children around the world. The latter is the continuation of undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts but not limited to such.
When all preparations were completed, they commenced their first tour. The earliest production had an adequate number of performers. All in all, there were 90 of them, which included dancers, instrumentalists, soloists, and backstage production staff. Their showcases had multiple names such as Chinese Spectacular,” “Holliday Wonders,” “Chinese New Year Splendor,” and “Divine Performing Arts.” All of these became “Shen Yun” to simplify the branding of the productions.
It did not take long for the organization to grow exponentially. Only two years after their first production, they expanded to three companies. These clusters toured different cities in the world, each accompanied by a complete orchestra.
When the 2010s came, they were already racking up millions of audience. The organization also grew more, which would lead them to bigger venues. By 2012, they were already performing at the most prestigious theatres in the US, like the Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Kennedy Center. To give a nod to their foreign countries that embraced them fully, they integrated Western compositions into their repertoire while maintaining Classical Chinese at the core of their performances.
As the 2020s came, they reached millions of audiences per year. This achievement is a huge step up from the past years. Among this huge number of viewers are celebrities and notable people. The reception they are receiving is always positive.
As mentioned multiple times, dance is central to a Shen Yun performance. The dancers are known for displaying near-perfect acrobatics, tumblings, and heavily technical dance movements. The philosophy behind the movements comes from three elements. These are bearing, form, and technical skills. Bearing is the soul of the performances as it entails emotions and cultural sensibilities. Form means the discipline to remain graceful and expressive. Technical skills are the stylistic choices in movements like jumping, tumbling, and leaping. The subjects of their performances reenact historical events or are immersed in legendary stories from Ancient China, and most have religious undertones. Among their most popular is their version of Mulan and Journey to the West. They also perform about what Falun Gong is today. Their collection does not end there as they branched out to performances inspired by Mongolian dances.
Music and technologically advanced staging help the performances pop out in a Shen Yun Performance. The music is produced by instruments of traditional Chinese origins. Their orchestra includes sections of pipa, suona, dizi, guzheng, and other uniquely traditional percussive instruments. As for the staging, they always have a digitally shown backdrop. Unlike any other big LED screens, this one offers close to realistic footage of Chinese and Mongolian sceneries.
With dance, music, and staging combined, the performances are usually impressive, offering a beautiful perspective on Chinese culture. People will be engaged throughout the showcase.
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center will be the Shen Yun performance venue on February 24 and 25. Two shows will be presented on the 24th: 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and one 2:00 PM show on the 25th. Tickets are now on sale, and you can get yours here by hitting the “Get Tickets” link.