This Saturday, Shen Yun Performing Arts performs at the Orpheum. Based on a repository of Chinese history and culture that date back millennia, Shen Yun presents luminous costumes, graceful dancers, strikingly scaled backdrops, and rich live music that bridges East and West. Chinese civilization is steeped in the idea that humanity and the divine are intertwined. In context, Shen Yun translates as "the beauty of divine beings dancing." We asked Jason Wang — coordinator of New Times Culture and Education Center, which is hosting the Shen Yun performance — to tell us more.
Flyer: How is classical and folk and ethnic Chinese dancing different from Western dance?
Jason Wang: Classical Chinese dance has a vast training system and is a dance form still mostly new to the West. It carries the essence of Chinese cultural expression in its movements, postures, and aesthetics. In its early years, it was passed down primarily in the imperial court and as part of ancient theater.
In past years, you've examined themes of justice, ethnic identity, and spiritual belief under Communist rule in China. What can the Memphis audience expect to see?
In a collection of short pieces, audiences may travel from the Himalayas to tropical lake-filled regions; sit in on a school of mischievous monks; or follow a journey of the Monkey King. The theme of each show is the revival of traditional Chinese culture by portraying, through classical dance, the history of what China once was with all its beauty, diversity, spirit, and color and what it has become. Shen Yun artists immerse themselves in both worlds in order to portray each story as authentically and realistically as they can.
Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Orpheum, Saturday, February 26th, 2 and 8 p.m. $70-$150. Go to ShenYunPerformingArts.org for more information.