If you happened to catch the performance of KODO in Indianapolis last week, you saw one form of Asian artistic expression that combined traditional Eastern instruments with traditional Western ones. KODO performed taiko, a style of Japanese drumming and dance that has been a part of the culture for thousands of years. But taiko isn’t the only form of musical expression indigenous to Asia. No, there are plenty of other cultures besides the Japanese who call Asia home, and each one has their own set of musical traditions, styles, and genres. One of the oldest countries in the world, China, predictably has one of the oldest musical traditions in the country. These 5,000 year old traditions are captured by Shen Yun Performing Arts, a dance and music troupe from China that has grown by leaps and bounds in just four short years. If you enjoyed the taiko drumming of KODO, come back to Clowes Memorial Hall on Friday, March 4 or Saturday, March 5, 2011 to catch the colorfully fluid performance art of Shen Yun in Indy.
|Video of the 2009 Chinese Spectacular, performed by Shen Yun Performing Arts; Shen Yun Performing Arts will be performing in Indianapolis March 4 and 5|
Shen Yun Performing Arts is a non-profit organization that calls New York City its home, though its cultural tradition extends across the Pacific Ocean to the days of ancient China. The goal of the company is to preserve the 5,000 year old Chinese traditions of dance and music, a cultural legacy that has systematically been removed from the country over the past several years of Communist rule. The performing arts troupe was founded in late 2006, when a group of Chinese ex-patriots (including dancers, choreographers, and musicians), got together with “a shared vision of cultural renewal.” Shen Yun’s first season came in 2007, when they had a single company that featured a dance ensemble, orchestra, and soloists. In 2011, four years later, Shen Yun now has three companies and hundreds of members that perform around the world, from the United States to Turkey.
|Video of an Asia Talk interview with Shen Yun Performing Arts company manager Vina Lee; Shen Yun Performing Arts will be performing in Indianapolis March 4 and 5|
A Shen Yun performance is like nothing the Indianapolis performing arts scene has seen in an Indianapolis cultural district. While KODO was mostly about the thunderous drums (with a few dancers and other instruments thrown in for good measure), Shen Yun is a multi-discipline experience, combining several aspects of Chinese artistry into a colorful, frenetic, multimedia performance. According to Shen Yun’s website, a performance by this worldwide performance art troupe is “a presentation of traditional Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, and the virtues distilled from the five millennia of Chinese civilization.”
|Promotional video for Shen Yun Performing Arts; Shen Yun Performing Arts will be performing in Indianapolis March 4 and 5|
Each performance is broken up into several smaller pieces, each telling a traditional Chinese tale of creation, war, and history. Two varieties of traditional Chinese dance (Classical Chinese dance and ethnic dances specific to particular regions) are represented by the company’s pantheon of award winning dancers, who display flowing garments, flashing jewelry, and elegant movements. These dancers are backed by the Shen Yun Orchestra, which combines traditional Chinese instruments like the erhu and pipa with instruments you’d probably hear with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra: violins, woodwinds, and brass instruments. Behind all this are state of the art animated backdrops that provide context and setting for the elegant display of artistic prowess on the stage at Butler University.
|Video of members of Shen Yun Performing Arts performing “Yuan (Predestined Relationship)” on erhu; Shen Yun Performing Arts will be performing in Indianapolis March 4 and 5|
Each piece performed by the Shen Yun Orchestra and the rest of the company is an original piece written by members of the company, and each year Shen Yun Performing Arts writes new material, so even if you’ve seen a performance by Shen Yun, you’ll see a totally new display if you head to downtown Indianapolis on March 4 or 5, 2011. Whether you’re a die-hard Indianapolis music fan who wants to get a taste of other countries’ musical traditions or you just want to experience something outside of your cultural sphere, the performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts at Butler University is the perfect Indianapolis art event for you. The event at the downtown Indianapolis school will have a total of three showings: one at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4, 2011 and one at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 5. Tickets range from $120 to $60 for adults, and there will be a discount for groups of ten or more. Presented by the Indiana Falun Dafa Association, Shen Yun Performing Arts is a graceful introduction to traditional Chinese culture right here in the Circle City, so get your tickets today!
Shen Yun Performing Arts
Friday, March 4, 2011 at 7:30 p.m; Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $120, $100, $90, $80, $60; discounts for groups of 10 or more
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