Timeout - Ancient China`s with magic and mystery
by Life Positive
As the curtain went up at the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall theatre, in Taiwan, Teipei, I could not have imagined what a spectacular show awaited me. Tears silently rolled down my cheeks, as I was transported to a world of innocence, nobility and beauty, through the artistry of the Shen Yun Performing Arts, a New York-based company. The two-and-a-half-hour Shen Yun show, showcased the story of China before communism through classical Chinese dance (an athletic dance form that incorporates the acrobatic movements of martial arts), ethnic and folk dances, bel canto-style singing and a live Western orchestra featuring ancient Chinese instruments.
The company stages the show around the world in its aim to revive a 5000-year-old Chinese traditional culture that got demolished after the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
I was particularly moved by the story of the famous Money King, inspired by a famous character from a Chinese classic, Journey to the West.
The story enacted on stage shows the Buddhist monk, Xuan Zang (also known as Tang Monk and Tripitaka), journeying along with his three disciples, among who is the Monkey King, from China to what would be now called India, in search of sacred Buddhist scriptures. On the way the foursome enter the mysterious White Tiger mountain range. There they meet the lurking White Bone Demon.
The demon tried to transform itself in various human forms, but the monkey king sees right through this and kills the false image every time. However, Xuan Zang is not able to see through the deception of the demon and thinks that the Monkey King has become violent. He expels him from the pilgrimage and pledges never to see him again.
Bidding farewell, the Monkey King prostrates himself in respect at his master’s feet, but Xuan Zang turns away: “I’m a decent monk, I won’t accept bows from wicked people like you!”
The Monkey King now gone, the monk and his remaining disciples carry on and find themselves in a forest. The Black Pine Forest is infested with demons that prove too strong for the remaining two disciples. So the monk is captured and turned into a tiger. Finally, one of the disciples entreats the Monkey King to return. He accepts the offer and defeats the demons, rescuing his master once again. The four thus continue on their journey to the West. Not only was this beautiful story aesthetically and eloquently captured, but its underlying message haunted me for a long time. For me it meant seeing right through illusions and staying steady on one’s path.
It was an enlightening and inspiring experience to see ancient Chinese legends and myths as well as contemporary stories of courage come alive on stage. Bilingual emcees introduced each act in order to set it in context. Digital backdrops enhanced the storytelling, transporting audiences from the Dynasty Court to the Himalayan Mountains to China’s lake regions.
Beautifully assembled colourful costumes recreated the styles of Chinese dynasties and regions. They were not only nourishing to the eyes but very inspiring to the spirit as they perfectly complemented the various emotions from different eras brought to life before the audience. Shen Yun for me was a beautiful visual and enlightening treat. The performers looked spiritually rich and the energy on the stage was unique. I am going to remember this evening for a long time!
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