Friday, May 10, 2013

Shen Yun, Part II: GIR and the Fog

As we headed toward the Overture Center for the big concert, Spousal Unit and I still had time to kill, so we went to the art museum next door. We stood in awe of the beautiful interior for a moment, then asked the guy at reception what the coolest piece in the museum was at the moment.

"Well, we're technically closed right now," he said. "But I think it's the painting over there."

The painting was more or less an upskirt shot of a lady's crossed legs under a table. She seemed to have a tuba or something draped over one foot.

Art is weird sometimes, but awesome at others. Through the glass wall next to the painting was an exhibit of children's art, and I saw this piece of glory.

It's GIR from Invader Zim! At a distance, it was hard to tell the medium, but I think the black parts are felt and the green is papier mache.

Anyway. You want to hear about the concert.

We sat in the front row of the second balcony (there are three total). It was really high up and kind of terrifying to walk beside that railing, but I felt better once I sat down. For a little while, I considered how cool the show would be if we were closer to ground level, but after the dancers came out and started twirling their long sleeves, I was glad to be high up. It was so much more visually impressive.

Each dance included a projected scene in the background, which moved along with the music and allowed the appearance of flight for some scenes. (It was also probably a lot cheaper than constructing a set.) The dancers told Chinese stories about Buddha coming to Earth, a troll who became a monk, and some of the darker parts of Chinese history.

The MCs were right in saying these dances couldn't be performed in today's China, but part of the reason for that was their overarching historical significance. There were several dances traditional to different regions of China, and traditional dances are now banned there.

I have two distinct favorites from the show. One was the phoenix dance, in which the dancers wore beautiful royal blue outfits with long skirts and a length of orange cloth, draped like a rope across the dancers' backs. The way those skirts spun with the bright orange accent was gorgeous. I want one of those skirts.

The other part Spousal Unit and I loved was the music. My favorite unusual instrument was the suona, and Spousal Unit's was the erhu. In one scene, the curtain rose up, and the stage had been filled with white clouds (thanks to a smoke machine). As the dancers began to spin and leap, the fog also swirled around ... promptly engulfing the bassoonist and other members of the pit orchestra. We could hardly contain ourselves.

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