As a dancer, I love attending dress rehearsals for the Symphony Orchestra tour.
Just imagine—all of Shen Yun’s dancers and artistic crew cozy in the plushy blue seats of our music hall, enjoying our orchestra perform favorite pieces from the previous season’s tour. After a long day of intense training and rehearsing for next season’s dance production, this rare treat—no sweat, no pressure—is total pleasure.
As the concert begins, I’m on the edge of my seat. The urge to jig along is impossible (and needless) to suppress. I’m enjoying the maestro’s fun, energetic conducting, seeking out musician friends I don’t often see, and smiling to myself at the impressive bulwark of double basses ever so engrossed in strumming their pizzicatos—which to my surprise are rich, warm, and amazingly buoyant.
In the third piece, a flute and clarinet duet trills out opening notes of Poets of the Orchid Pavilion and a familiar scene engulfs me:
Breathless after an exhilarating spin to the Tang Dynasty, I make my way from the dazzling spotlights to the dim of a blue gel-lit backstage. Some strategic (yet by now subconscious) maneuvering helps me navigate around still-winded friends and the dozens of costumes and accessories we’ve raced in and out of during the first three quick-changes of the night.
My fingers are working to unfasten a Tang-styled hairpiece—the beginning of another (less hasty) transformation—because soon we’ll be zipping a few millennia further to take part in a pre-dynastic fable. Meanwhile, my eyes are scanning for a lotus fairy gown and a Han-court robe, waiting patiently to be collected and re-hung with care. In the distance, a calm, mystical melody rises out of the orchestra pit accented by the brisk powerful sounds of the scholar’s fans as dancers swoosh them open and snap them shut.
A few songs into the second half, delighted gasps emanate all around me as another favorite begins: The Mystical Udumbara. This time, the girls break out in action. All across the balcony, lithe arms pop up and start swaying in sync:
Right-left-right, bud together, and then open with a bloom. Then tra-la-laaaaaaaaa! The conductor swooshes down the final fermata and every girl (within her plushy blue seat) strikes a final floret pose.
If strangers had suddenly walked in on this scene, they might have thought we were doing “the wave” at a classical concert. Yet we’re having more fun than they could even imagine, reliving cherished memories as elusive flower fairies from the previous season’s performance.