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Shen Yun Explains Why Traditional Costumes Are Important

NEW YORK, NY / ACCESSWIRE / March 10, 2022 / Fashion allows us to tell the world who we are and how we see ourselves. It is an outward display of self-expression that is deeply intimate, but often takes a backseat in our daily lives. Yet, there is a transformative element to it that performers know all too well. American actress, Jane Levy, said it best, "Costume is a huge part of creating a character. Your body soaks in what you're wearing, and you turn into someone else."

If you've ever worn a new pair of shoes on the first day of school, then you know the feeling too. For the performers of Shen Yun, their costumes serve the same role. Their authentic attire plays a vital part in transforming them from dancers into storytellers.

While on the surface, Shen Yun is a dance production that combines harmony and motion to tell the story of ancient China, it relies heavily on fashion to tell these stories authentically and accurately.

Below, is a breakdown of the costumes behind the poetic Shen Yun show.

How Shen Yun Displays Ancient Clothing in its Performances

For the ancient people of China, clothing was an adaptation to their environment as well as a reflection of the values that they held dear. In the Shen Yun show, its performers also adapt to the clothing through storytelling and dance.

With so many storylines to explore, there isn't one garment that can sufficiently distill 5,000 years of rich history and culture into Shen Yun's two-hour performance. This is why audiences who have seen Shen Yun have been swept up in all the vibrant displays of wardrobe from all parts of this ancient world. From the unrestrained elegance of traditional Han clothing to the exquisite styling of Yi ethnic groups, these pieces are woven together like a beautiful tapestry to create an experience that transcends any form of art.

The Different Types of Ancient Chinese Clothing


One of the garments featured every two or three years in a Shen Yun performance is the "qipao," an elegant statement piece worn by women of the Qing Dynasty. The name itself is a homage to the Manchurian people who popularized this dress, as it combines two words "Qi", another name for the Manchurians, and "pao" meaning gown. Often found in soft yet vibrant hues of blue and pink, qipao is known for its distinguished collar, and narrow-waisted slit skirt. The elegance of this piece finds its home in the production amongst the soft sounds of orchestral music, gracefully flowing through the serene choreography of Shen Yun.

The Tibetan Chuba

Standing in contrast to the elegance of the qipao, Shen Yun also pays tribute to the harsh and often brutal conditions the Tibetan people experience on the northern steppes. Life on the steppes isn't easy, but the practice of finding hope in tough times is best embodied in the traditional gown of the Tibetan people, called the Chuba.

Traditionally made from sheep's skin, this garment did well to insulate the people from the sandstorms and frigid temperatures they experience on the open plains. While the nature of life was rugged, the people who fashioned this piece infused it with contrasting colors around the hems as a reminder that even during difficult times life remains beautiful. Contrast was an important motif for these ancient people, as they would often pair shades of reds with clashing tones such as green, blues and orange hues. They would also wear rainbow-colored aprons around their waists, as well as earrings and necklaces adorned with precious metals and gems, all while tending to life on the plains. Shen Yun audiences can witness the beauty of the Chuba as thunderous orchestral swells usher the dancers through a story that bears the resilience of the Tibetan people.

Shen Yun is as much of an artistic triumph as it is a representation of ancient Chinese tradition, and wouldn't be what it is without the beautiful costumes of its performers. Over the past 16 years, this production has amazed audiences of all ages with its pageantry and spectacular performances.

To learn more about Shen Yun and for a complete list of dates, check out their website, and see when Shen Yun is coming to a city near you.

Denise C. Riley

SOURCE: Shen Yun

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