Once upon a time, the world was blanketed in Shen Yun posters. And while the posters are no longer as ubiquitious as they once were, the Shen Yun show is back after a 1-year (2 years? What is time? Betty White died, and nothing matters) hiatus due to a lil virus my husband likes to call “Corvid.”
Same gorgeous costumes. Same weird-ass background screen. Same ban on alcohol causing us to rethink our decision to once again sit through that many hours of dancing. And, (wo)man, did we miss it!
I won’t go into the background on Shen Yun because I’ve already done that in my original should-have-been-award-winning blog post in 2020 (click here). And who wants to relive the past? New year, new you!
What I will do is provide an update, complete with new thoughts on this ancient art that dates back 5,000 years.
Sitting in the theatre, I was thinking that Shen Yun is a little bit West Side Story (the O.G., not the terrible new one), a little bit Martial Arts of Shaolin, and a little bit What’s Up, Tiger Lily?*
Maybe it’s the digital scenery on the background screen that made me think of WUTL because nothing else about Shen Yun is fake. It’s a highly difficult and practiced performance of dance and acrobatics. But this popped into my head, and I don’t know where my thoughts come from…*waves hands around at the ether*
This year, the show seemed shorter. Maybe it’s because I knew what to expect. That first time really punches you in the jaw.
Or maybe it’s because the director—see below—read the room and realized that we’re at our wit’s end with weirdness going into our third year in a pandemic.
Either way, there wasn’t as much anti-communist sentiment. Nearly all of the protest scenes were gone. And while there was the same story-telling aspect, the focus was more on the dancing. <<I’m not complaining: Water Sleeves FTW>>
What I now refer to as She Fun—partly because it’s a major lady outing planned months in advance—has become a tradition. An enthusiastic friend and I get dressed up (no red clothes cuz red is for commies and Shen Yun ain’t about that life), grab snacks and drinks (at Anime this year, recommend!), and head to the theatre with full walktails (which included a sampler of airplane minis).
The fact that Shen Yun is flourishing, with seven performance troops that travel the world (although not in China where it’s banned), speaks to its resilience and to the resilience of the human spirit. People want to live their truth, even in the face of tyrannical government. I gotta thinking there’s a metaphor for the U.S. in there somewhere, but this isn’t that kind of blog; I’m here to unite, not divide. But anyway, my Tuesday night, my choice to see 2.5 hours of Chinese ballet.
I was ready to be entertained, and Shen Yun delivered. It’s still cute. It’s still maybe a cult. And big boi D.F. is still at the helm. She Fun forever!