Imagine putting on a gown with long flowing sleeves and being transported back two thousand years. Or adorning a delicate headdress to step into the role of an imperial palace maiden. Or slipping into a silk costume to be endowed with the wisdom and compassion of a Boddhisatva.
It may be some time until these fashions are available for the springtime sale, but dancers for Shen Yun Performing Arts are privy to these experiences every evening. And anyone who steps into Lincoln Center for a Shen Yun show April 20-28 will have the chance to be transported across time for a glimpse of some of the most awe-inspiring fashion the world has every known.
In 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts was founded by a group of overseas Chinese artists dreaming of a renaissance for mankind’s most ancient heritage. Within six seasons, their wish has become an international phenomenon with Shen Yun emerging as the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. Shen Yun’s three companies, each with a full orchestra, dance troupe, and soloists, now travel to about 100 cities around the globe.
Touched by the show’s message of truth and hope, people the world over watch with tears in their eyes. Countless are astounded by the agility of Shen Yun performers. And what has caught the eye of style gurus are the 400-plus costumes that dancers are cloaked in as they soar through the air.
“I saw here the best example of how fabric, clothing, and sleeves can enhance the movement and tell the story,” said famed designer Norma Kamali after seeing Shen Yun at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.
“What I loved about the show was the authenticity of it,” fashion designer Donna Karan, creator of DKNY, declared upon seeing the show in 2011. “It was like taking a journey to China, here in New York.”
The hundreds of hand-tailored costumes are the product of detailed, behind-the-scenes work by Shen Yun costume artists as they strive to achieve an authentic presentation and consummate stage effect.
Meanwhile, dancers remark on the unique experience of wearing such authentic attire and indeed, switching through at least a dozen different costumes for each show.