Richard Connema: 'The dancing is superb'
SAN FRANCISCO—Richard Connema, renowned critic for Talkin' Broadway, typically reviews Broadway shows from a seat in the first four rows. Last night, he enjoyed the Shen Yun Performing Arts’ show at the War Memorial Opera House, in San Francisco, from a center-box seat.
Having seen hundreds of shows, Mr. Connema brings a wealth of experience when he comes to a performance. There are 300 theaters in the Bay Area, and he once attended 190 shows in one year. This was his third time seeing a performance by New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts.
From the vantage point of his seat, Mr. Connema could appreciate all the action on the stage: “The choreography is absolutely gorgeous—beautiful!” he said.
He gave the female Shen Yun dancers high praise, specifically mentioning the dances Mongolian Hospitality and In a Miao Village. “The girls were absolutely fantastic!” he said.
Mr. Connema said he had never seen such meticulous dancing, noting especially the hand movements. “The dancing is superb,” he said.
“I loved the music. Some of the music sounded more Western than Asian, which I like—the combination. Some of the music almost bordered on Italian—Donozetti, Guccini—and that was very striking,” he said.
He said he especially liked the colors worn by the women, particularly in the scarf dance and the silk dance [Flowing Silk]: “It was beautiful! The other one [Handkerchiefs] … where they open up—they look like green flowers—that was absolutely gorgeous!”
In his work at Warner Bros., Mr. Connema has dealt with cinematography. He described Shen Yun’s settings as “absolutely great.” “Some of them were very third-dimensional, which I like.” He especially liked “the one about the goddess who comes out, and the mountain collapses [Splitting the Mountain]—that’s beautifully done. You don’t seen that any other place,” he said.
Mr. Connema said there is so much activity on stage that it was hard to take it all in: “First of all, this is a kind of thing that you should go back and see about six times and then concentrate on one thing that’s going on.”
July 16, 2009