Shen Yun Costumes – Exploring the Fine Art of Chinese Dress11 January, 2012 at 07:53 | Posted in Chinese culture, Shen Yun | Leave a comment
Tags: Chinese culture, Shen Yun
All but lost in the East, the essence of an age-old culture rises in the West. This is Part 6 of a nine-part series that explores traditional Chinese culture to reveal a deeper understanding of the genius of New York-based classical Chinese dance company Shen Yun Performing Arts.
NEW YORK—In China—the land of silk, rich and artful embroidery, and vibrant color—the style of dress has varied greatly over the civilization’s long history and among its 55 ethnic groups.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts revives not only the dance and music of 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture, but also features the art of fashion. With each dance is a veritable fashion show in and of itself, consisting of the handmade haute couture reaching across China’s vast geographies and throughout its periods of history.
“I was very impressed with the clothing and costumes,” said famed designer Norma Kamali after seeing Shen Yun perform last January in New York. She attended with friend Jill Spalding, a writer and editor for Vogue Magazine. Both appraised the colorful garb of the different regions of China.
“I saw here the best example of how fabric, clothing, and sleeves can enhance the movement and tell the story,” said Ms. Kamali. “When the sleeves became a part of the rhythm and a part of the overall design of the set, it was very impressive!”
Shen Yun’s costume artists use bright colors to tailor and recreate hundreds of new pieces each season. Every detail is given meticulous attention, and is a result of artistic inspiration and careful polishing. According to the Shen Yun website, “The designers stress harmonic balance and contrast. Their objective is an authentic presentation of the attire that comes from China’s divinely inspired traditional culture, and a consummate stage effect.”
“I really like the flowing, the sleeves, and how it communicates the feelings, how the flowing of the silk was sort of a mechanism for communicating an interior manifestation,” said Reem Alalusi, a fashion designer and the founder and creative director of Alalusi Couture, when she saw Shen Yun perform last January in San Francisco. “I thought that was beautiful; it’s a beautiful touch, something that every fashion designer tries to achieve.”
The styles reflected in a Shen Yun performance can generally be divided into three categories: Han clothing, the attire worn by China’s vast ethnic minorities, and the regalia of Buddhas, Taos, and other heavenly immortals that are intrinsic to China’s divinely inspired culture.