Indiana is set to celebrate its bicentennial in 2016. While 200 years seems like a lot to us, we’re whippersnappers compared to the Chinese. China can trace its history for more than 5,000 years. In that time, they’ve developed a rich and deep culture that celebrates art and beauty. Shen Yun Chinese Performing Arts brings that rich legacy to the stage with music, dance, and sheer spectacle.
The show is playing February 5-6 at 7 pm. at Clowes Memorial Hall on the campus of Butler University. Tickets are still available.
Shen Yun means “the beauty of divine beings dancing.” How beautiful are dancing divinities? See for yourself:
Looks pretty divine to me.
In total, nearly 100 talented artists take the stage. Some dance, twirling their way through Chinese classical dance, known for its acrobatic athleticism. Much of it looks like martial arts as much as it does like dance—think of the beauty and grace in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or other kung fu epics. Other performers demonstrate dance styles from China’s ethnic minorities, including the Mongolians and the Dai. All of that’s combined with operatic singers and the world’s only permanent orchestra that combines traditional Western instruments with Chinese specialties like the erhu and the pipa.
The heart of the show is in its group dances. Each vignette is driven by a story, often derived from Chinese myth and legend. Some of them, like the story of girl warrior Mulan, are familiar, while others provide new insight into Chinese history and culture. All of that’s combined with nearly 400 colorful costumes, big-screen projections, and major props. It’s a whirl of color, sound, and beauty.
Don’t worry if you aren’t intimately familiar with Chinese culture; a pair of bilingual emcees are on hand throughout the evening to explain the stories and sneak in a little learning between the pageantry.
The show is appropriate for children and is a wonderful way to introduce them to the astonishing and varied cultures of the world. After you’ve piqued your curiosity about Chinese culture, why not check out the Asian galleries at the Indianapolis Museum of Art or mark the Indianapolis Chinese Festival on your calendar for this September? See the world without ever leaving the Circle City.