I was on my way to work when the exact poster you see above caught my eye. I don't know what it was that triggered such an instant response but I knew I had to see Shen Yun 2012. I saved the details and had it booked as soon as I got paid.
Even though I know people who would appreciate classical Chinese dance, no-one I know loves it as much as I me, so I bought my ticket with the intention that I'd be going alone, although I did ask my eldest sister and my Mama, who said it wasn't their type of thing. But when I showed my mother the trailer, instantly she said 'Ooo, I wanna see that!' I just rolled my eyes. Sometimes I just don't know what to do with my family - especially my eldest sister, who was later annoyed that I supposedly didn't ask her to come to something that supposedly wasn't her thing ANYWAY... (see where I'm going with this...?)... that's why sometimes I just have to shut my mouth and go about my business - because people are f***ing crazy.
The London Coliseum is one BEAUTIFUL piece of architecture, really and truly. Seeing as I was by myself and twenty minutes early, I just bought a programme, went into the theatre and stared at everything, especially the dome in the ceiling, with delicate engraved designs in them. There was a statue of a male holding the leesh of three lions, to which I thought - 'Oo! I have an idea.' In fact, everything I saw inspired me for a book.
It felt weird at first, being a 19 year old black girl sitting the the middle of a sea of mainly Asian and white adults and children. Maybe I would've felt uncomfortable if it hadn't been for the fact that I was there because I really, really wanted to be there regardless of what anyone else thought, did or said. So, I didn't let myself feel awkward at the composed white lady on my left and the Chinese lady who came with the white gentleman on my right.
When the show started, I was so excited that I kinda had to clench my fists to stop them shaking. My rule of thumb is: You Know That You Absolutely Love A Show When You Want To See It Again After The First Act. I rarely get that, but I got it with this! The opening was dynamic, with the use of large drums that sat on the ground. I was in awe at the precision of the dancers, and also at how incredibly smoothly the transition into various formations - HAVING TO ROLL THE DRUMS AROUND WITH THEM TOO - was executed.
I was like, WOOOOOOOOWWWWWW.........
And suddenly I knew how much I had to improve to achieve highly when I start my Dance degree this year. I don't think I ever perceived formations like that before.
The poise of the dancers was brilliant as well. The female dancers were graceful, the male dancers were noble, all of the dancers had admirable classical technique and agility. The ladies costumes were so pretty! They were vivid, bright and flowing, and very specific to Chinese culture. The combination of some colours like yellow and green, blue and pink and so on, were so nice.
The way props were incorporated in the piece was clever, expressive, and very fluid: staffs, headdresses, Chinese fans, brooms, basins, washcloths, khata, spears, twirl-sequined handkerchiefs and my absolute favourite - water sleeves. They looked like huge ribbons attached to their arms... and you know how I feel about ribbons. :) <3
I really liked the hosts - I wish I knew their names! The lady spoke in Chinese for a lot of it but her presentation was so gracious, while the guy spoke in English for most of it, and he was quite funny. I was unprepared for the American accent the first time he spoke, but then I had a bit of a DURH moment when I remembered that the company is based in New York.
Now, favourite acts. I quite liked An Era Begins, simply because it was so dynamic. Sleeves Of Silk was beautifully choreographed and I adored that one. And God, the music for the Taiwanese Amei Dance was stuck in my head ALL NIGHT, and every time I thought of it I just wanted to dance. I don't even know how I remembered it. The headdresses in that one were very good too, they made a lovely sound whenever the dancers moved their heads. The Martial Arts Training Ground was... I think the one word that can describe it accurately is Supercool, which you won't find in your dictionary, heh. That one was athletic and traditional, and a great way to show off the dancers abilities and technique. I really enjoyed that one. I quite liked Dance Of The Quang People because it kind of reminded me of Taiwanese Amei Dance in the sense of the unity of the people, the sense of culture and community. The choreo was also quite quirky, and that really caught my attention. I loved loved loved Lady Mu Guiying Commands The Troops. The dancer who played Lady Mu Guiying was just incredible, and her movements were strong and proud. I felt so inspired after this piece. Finally, I think Snowflakes Welcoming Spring has got to have a mention because it was sooo CUTEEE.
A lot of the acts were sweet and funny, like How The Monkey King Came To Be and Joyful Little Monks. Others were quite serous and political, like The Dafa Practitioners Magical Encounter and The Choice.
The digital projection used was so clever in how it worked with dancers entering and exiting the stage. The images used were so beautiful, I really want to put huge printed frames of them on my wall so I can feel happily transported wherever I look. It would be great if I could get them. Saying that, it would be doubly great if I could buy a recorded performance of Shen Yun 2012 too. I'd love to watch it again from start to finish.
And or course the MUSIC, which was BREATHTAKING with a LIVE ORCHESTRAAAAA... and that was the only thing I really regretted, that being sat in the third row of the balcony seats meant that I couldn't see hardly any of the orchestra, only a few of the horns. I even considered going to see it again while they're still in London just to sit at the front and watch the orchestra! The music made me so happy. When the host said that it was a mix of Chinese, Classical and Western instruments, my mouth just about dropped open because I've had a fascination for that for the past month and a half since I finished The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword game (which used a full orchestra for the soundtrack.) -sigh- maybe one day.
The opera singers were unexpected, but pleasant to listen to. The lyrics were quite moving too, particularly in Are The Vows Forgotten?, when my mind was filled with wonder at 'We walk the path led by the divine', and 'Have you forgotten the vows made at the creation of the world? They are your hope to return home'.
At the end there must've been about two or three curtain calls, but they should've gotten even more. I only stopped clapping because my arms started to hurt. The guy on my right turned to me and said, "What did you think of that?" and so many words came to mind that after initial stuttering I could only say, "Ah, it was beautiful." Simply put.
I ended up chatting with the lady sitting to my left on the way out, who I at first thought must be some middle-class avid theatre-goer or maybe a journalist. She actually turned out to be a nice lady who enjoyed doing yoga with an interest in dance and how bodies move. She also helped me figure out how to fix my cheapo Primark bag, so I thanked her for that because the zip has been jammed for weeks now.
I feel so inspired to create a classical dance piece. Maybe when I go to university I can find dancers for it. I even knew what I'd like it to be called; Heaven On The Edge Of The Waters. Or something like that. I know what I want it to look like too. I was practically dancing as I got ready for bed, trying to be a little Chinese flower fairy. : )
Then, I had a intriguing dream that fitted perfectly with the title of my Dance-To-Be...
(Heaven) On The Edge Of The Waters
After watching Shen Yun, I got back late-ish, went to bed around one in the morning, and then I had the most interesting, curious dream.
It involved me trying to find a home for my people, as their leader. The Earth King refused to have us. The Earth and Air civilisations had rejected us, so I led my group of outcasts into the water, where we could find a home. All of my people were somehow adapted to hold oxygen for a long time if needed, so I had to train them to hold more for longer underwater. I took them further than we had ever been in the depths of the water until turquoise became indigo, and we eventually found a paradise that had reserves of a mystical food that could not be found anywhere else in the world. Once the Air Queen heard, she made a 'casual' visit to see for herself. She requested to take the reserve but we refused her. My people didn't just find heaven of the edge of the waters, we also found our home.
Love and Light,