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More spectacular costumes than New York Fashion Week. More jaw-dropping athleticism than an Olympic event. And more amazing amalgams of dance and gymnastics than any episode of America’s Got Talent (and maybe more than your average Cirque show).

You get all that with Shen Yun, a NYC-based troupe that travels the world recreating and recontextualizing ancient traditions of Chinese dance, theater and music for contemporary audiences. The company continues its run today through Sunday at the Mahaffey. I’ve only seen the performers on video, but they do seem to possess an astonishing depth of talent, and the grand scale and color of the staging (including massive digital backdrops) is an eyeful.

Then there’s this: According to the troupe’s website, “The traditional Chinese culture Shen Yun presents cannot be seen anywhere else in the world—not even in China. There, the ruling communist regime has viewed China’s rich spiritual and artistic heritage as a threat to its ideology and for decades tried to erase it.” The Chinese artists who founded the company in 2006 in New York came together to revive their own cultural heritage. 

Mahaffey Theater/Duke Energy Center for the Arts, 400 First Street S., St. Petersburg, continuing today at 2 p.m.; 2/22 at 7:30 p.m.; 2/23 at 2 & 7:30 p.m.; 2/24 at 2 p.m.


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