Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Shen Yun
National Tour
Review by Mark Horning

Also see David's review of Lost in Yonkers

Photo Courtesy of Shen Yun Performing Arts
The only negative thing I can say about Shen Yun is that there are not enough performances to go around. In spite of five companies touring 20 countries with stops in 150 cities and 500 performances per year there are still some folks who are unable to see the magnificent grandeur of traditional Chinese dance. For example, the first two (of three) performances in the 3,200 seat State Theatre at Playhouse Square in Cleveland were sold out. The show could easily fill the theater many more times due to word of mouth. Shen Yun is the show that should be on everybody’s bucket list to see at least once.

The company of around forty dancers and six principal dancers perform seventeen different acts, or stories, along with a soloist on Erhu (a type of two-string violin) and a soprano, both of whom are accompanied by piano. The dancers are accompanied by a full classical orchestra that includes a number of traditional Chinese instruments.

It is a daunting task to fill the enormous performing area in the State Theatre, yet Shen Yun does it with grace and ease. The back wall is made up of a huge screen upon which various videos are played that correspond to the different storylines. The graphics are captivating as the dancers jump off a set of back risers and are seen "flying" on the screen. This takes split-second timing to get perfect and the company hits its mark each and every time.

The costuming should get separate billing, as it is a star in its own right. Free flowing and immensely colorful, the many costumes become extensions of the dancers. Impressive also is the synchronicity of the dancers. Each sequence features a large group of dancers moving in total harmony with each other. Additionally, there are touches of humor sprinkled throughout the show that give the dancers a chance to "ham it up" for the audience.

Mesmerizing, beautiful, traditional, exotic, astounding and magical are just some of the superlatives that describe this show that combines traditional dance, martial arts, ballet and synchronized movement in a flow of color that dazzles the audience.

Shen Yun, through February 4, 2018, at the State Theatre, Playhouse Square, Cleveland OH. Tickets for the Cleveland show may be purchased online at or by phone by calling (216) 241-6000 or by stopping by the Playhouse Square Ticket Office located in the outer lobby of the State Theatre. For more information on the tour, visit

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