Shen Yun operatic spectacle dazzles at Place des Arts

Photo courtesy of Shen Yun 2015

Convulsive changes in Chinese society, accelerated by the push to modernize and grow the economy, have rekindled a yearning for free expression, cultural diversity, and creativity linked to traditional arts. The current version of the Great Leap Forward has exacted a huge price in terms of a rich cultural past that the current leadership wants to forget.

Montrealers will have another chance to experience Chinese legends, steeped in 5,000 years of history, as expressed in Chinese classical dance, music, folklore and visual art in a spectacular show returning here April 30 and May 1. Shen Yun 2016 is on for three performances at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, Place des Arts – two at 7:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday, and a 2 pm matinée on Sunday.

This visit by the troupe marks its tenth straight year performing here as part of its North American tour.

It’s an entirely new program, says Charles Jin, President of the organizing committee of the presenters, the Falun Dafa Association of Montreal, and the first time it is offered in celebration of spring.  

The two and half hour show, with an intermission, features dazzling costumes, imaginative props, and multi-coloured animated backgrounds that interact with dancers on the stage. The sketches feature both solo and ensemble performances. The art forms are traditional, with operatic singing, classical Chinese dancing, and folk dancing. They are inspired by historic Chinese sources and associated cultures.

The overall theme is discovering Shen Yun — the “divine performing arts” of China— with a full orchestra composed of traditional and contemporary instruments to accompany dancers and singers on stage.

It is a dazzling program that has earned rave reviews from those who have seen it.  

In 2006, a collective of dancers, musicians, visual artists, and writers who are committed to revive five millennia of divinely inspired culture began developing dramatic ways to depict Chinese cultural history and traditions in a single spectacular presentation. Shen Yun is the result, and for the past decade a troupe of some 200 performers based in Cuddebackville, 135 kilometres northwest of New York City, have taken their production on the road. There are four teams performing some 400 shows in 120 cities worldwide.

Last year’s troupe performed to full houses, with up to three curtain calls at some of them, Jin recalled. It is a celebration of a unique cultural heritage.

Tickets cost $67.50 to $127.50. Place des Arts box office: 514-842-2112

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