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Charlotte locals were bombarded with TV commercials, online ads, flyers in the mail and billboards by the aggressively advertised “Shen Yun” dance performance. Apparently from the rave reviews of The Charlotte Observer, The Chicago Tribune, Opera Online, Stage Whispers Magazine and other publications. Looking at online videos and pictures of the performance it already seemed amazing with the vividly colored costumes, traditional Chinese folk music and intricate interpretative dances. This was enough to convince me to go and I knew that I couldn’t miss the performance for the third year in a row. I eagerly checked out prices, seat availability and dates of the show. I then quickly texted my boyfriend (so he could pay for the $80 tickets since I didn’t want to dish out the money), who is also a fan of the arts.

Sunday came and we got all dressed up to be immersed in artsy extravagance. We drove to the Old Concord Road light rail station since we didn’t want to pay for ridiculously, overpriced parking in the city. We then took the light rail the rest of the way and we finally reached the grand Blumenthal Arts and let me tell you, it was impressive. Everything from the spiral staircase on the edges of the building to the circular opening in the middle of the floor that displayed all the levels to the palatial space where paintings, sculptures and other creative treasures covered the walls. We got our tickets from will call and started the long trek up staircases to the balcony level. In retrospect, wearing my wedge heeled boots with all the walking we had to do was not a smart choice on my part. Then when the show started, I definitely had high expectations from all the high praise and wide success “Shen Yun” had. Which it turns out these expectations were met from the very beginning.

I was amazed by the whole show. There were special effects throughout where the characters would appear as going into and coming out of the screen and the scenery that changed for every dance was vibrant and detailed where it looked like 3D animation. Their costumes appeared like they were transported back in time from princesses with glittering sparkles, bright chromatic ombrés and oriental silk prints around the torso that all held a traditional but yet modern style. The interpretative dancing was unique, purposeful, animated and captivating, even for me who hates interpretative dance for the slow-paced music it is set too and the constant analysis of dance movements that should be obvious. There was the elegance of twirling handkerchiefs and billowing sleeves but yet a comedic flare from fake punches, pranks and frivolous dance movements. Not only were dancing and skits performed but an instrumental solo and an opera singer. It conveyed the beauty of Chinese culture, paramount historical events and even a political stance with bashing the tragic practice of persecution that is still practiced today.

I didn’t expect to be so awestruck. Truly there was everything that you could have wanted and more in this show. It was really a performance meant for all ages and with the new choreography and soundtrack each year, it gives the option of being an annual tradition. Most importantly, you gain a sense of respect and admiration for the arts especially dance, as well as Chinese culture as a whole. The performance being as expensive as it is, was most definitely worth the money. I can promise you next year I am going and the next year after that and the year after that and so on. Better yet, you should see it at least once too!

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