Shen Yun stage show captures Chinese culture, history

Dancers in colorful handmade costumes cover some 5,000 years of Chinese dance, culture and history in Shen Yun, coming to the Tennessee Theatre Feb. 12 and 13.

Dancers in colorful handmade costumes cover some 5,000 years of Chinese dance, culture and history in Shen Yun, coming to the Tennessee Theatre Feb. 12 and 13.

Shen Yun, a two-and-half-hour show focusing on Chinese dance, legends and culture, makes it first trip to Knoxville next week.

Performances of the New York-based company are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 at the Tennessee Theatre, 604 S. Gay St. Tickets, before service charges, are $52 or $82 for balcony seats; seats at the theater's lower orchestra level are $102 and $122.

Fifty dancers, often wearing colorful handmade costumes, and 40 musicians help make up the company that performs against a changing digital backdrop. Performers are trained in classical Chinese dance. Music is a combination of Western and Chinese. Some musicians perform a song's melody using ancient Chinese instruments such as an erhu or double-stringed violin as they as accompanied by a Western orchestra.

The production covers some 5,000 years of Chinese dance, culture and history. Those involved with Shen Yun say that the company, begun in 2006 in New York, is reviving ancient arts of China. Stories told through dance include those of ancient legends and grand warriors.

Shen Yun also includes a contemporary view of Communist China, showing in some dances what it in promotion materials terms "modern-dance human rights epics such as that of Falun Dafa." Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a Chinese spiritual and meditation practice that has been outlawed and its followers detained and imprisoned by the Chinese government.

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