Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shen Yun - The Art of the Traditional

Wednesday evening I went to this event with Mark and a friend.  As many of you know I have studied the Asian cultures over the last 10-12 years - detailing in on Chinese children's hats and the symbolism of embroidery and applique to convey moral meanings, wishes, or protection. I have found that the Chinese culture is so tremendously layered that I believe I could study it full time the rest of my life and never reach the full understanding of this interesting and beautiful culture.
So when we were invited along to see Shen Yun, I was more than ready to go! 
I found the experience (and it has to be described as an experience more so than a performance) to be a history lesson through the art of the dance. The costumes and stories of the dancers reach out to you with their beauty and grace depicting the classic traditional Chinese art of the dance. 
As an artist and my love of the Asian cultures, I found the color palette of the costuming to be delightful...a medium blue top with flowing candy pick skirt with a hint of yellow pants peeking out from under the skirt. The digital backdrop added to the experience with its colors and movement that flowed into the dancers.
I find one of the most interesting side notes is that you would never see a show like this one in China.
"Since the Communist Party rose in power and took over China, so much of the culture has been destroyed," said Vina Lee, an award-winning artist who trained at the prestigious Beijing Academy of Dance. "Many younger Chinese have no idea what Chinese culture is."

After more than 60 years of Communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished. However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.
Based out of New York and independent of China’s political regime read more here , Shen Yun brings together hundreds of the world’s top dancers, choreographers and musicians.
Han Ethnic Clothing
The Han people are by far China’s largest ethnic group. And so just as the Chinese language (yu) is known as Han-yu, Chinese clothing (fu) is known as Han-fu. In reality, though, traditional Chinese clothing has varied greatly from one dynasty to the next.

Hundreds of variations exist in Hanfu. The clothing generally consists of loose gowns, wide sleeves, and flat, open collars folded over to the right. Rather than using buttons or strings, most were kept in place by a sash belt. High hats and wide belts are distinguishing marks of scholars and officials. Hanfu was remarkably versatile and easy to wear.
read more here
I feel fortunate to experienced Shen Yun.  
It is a living presentation of traditional 
Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, 
and the virtues distilled from the five millennium of Chinese civilization.

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