On Friday February 17, 2017, Shen Yun Performing Arts Company unveiled its show in the Minneapolis Orpheum Theater. Unable to perform in its own country the company of Shen Yun travels the world educating the willing about authentic Chinese dance and culture.
Those who do not know what to expect from the show get dazzled from the start by a live orchestra of both western and eastern instruments, stunning artistry, and synchronicity of ballet quality dance movement creating gorgeous tableaux with interactive animated backdrop, colorful props, and splendid costumes. What cannot be help but be mentioned is that the female hostess was dressed to the nines one stunning dress for each act. As the show progresses, narrated by a proper Chinese hostess and an American host, it becomes more obvious that the artistry of the show serves a purpose of presenting the banned religious movement of Falung Gong, which emphasizes the traditions of Buddhism, meditation and tai chi. The movement, which at its inception enjoyed a close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party was later brutally outlawed. Traditional dances and story telling intermingle with scenes of the Falung Gong members being silenced and killed by dressed in black communist thugs. A bit forced are the Chinese soprano songs praising the Falung Gong ideology. Perhaps due to time limits and medium the stories were very black and white. Moreover, there was definite bias as along with traditional Chinese dance they also performed Tibetan, and Mongolian "ethnic" dances. Either saying Tibet and Mongolia dislike their current communist regimes, or that they are actually a part of China these two pieces make a big statement for those educated in global affairs.
The splendor of traditional scenes, however, cannot sustain the very static frame of the show, and even though, the hosts attempt more humor and banter, the second half the show becomes slightly too much of the same. More jaw dropping tableaux are created with dance, props and costumes, and the precision with which the dancers "pop" out of the animated backdrop is simply awe inspiring, but as with everything moderation is key.
Shen Yun is certainly a feast for the eyes and ears showcasing the rich 5,000 year old Chinese culture. Somehow when the final curtain closed one could not shake the feeling that the audience might have enjoyed just one continuous story line from the vaults of Chinese rich history more. Nevertheless, Shen Yun was performed by superbly talented artists and crew leaving the audience more informed.