Philadelphia's Academy of Music is kicking off the New Year with a dazzling show of classical Chinese dance.
The Shen Yun dance company is putting on a world tour with visits to 100 cities, and though they make an annual stop in Philadelphia, each year, the dances, music and backdrops are all new.
"Classical Chinese dance originates from imperial times," says Master of Ceremony Kelly Wen, "back then it was presented to the emperors and generals in the form of courtly dancing."
Shen Yun was founded in 2006 as with a mission to revive 5000 years of ancient culture.
The dance is believed to be divinely inspired and has been passed down through the generations.
"We have over 400 costumes during the show, all of which are handmade and tailored for each dancer," says Wen who adds that the costumes are carefully researched to "match the historical background behind each dance."
A live orchestra combines ancient Chinese and modern Western instruments and, with the dancers, transports audience members back to a time when Emperors ruled dynasties, heroes became legends, and the world was full of magic and miracles.
"It's really a journey from ancient China right up to today so, through 20 different segments, we'll be traveling through different dynasties, different ethnic groups," says Wen, "a lot of our audience members walk in without a deep understanding of Chinese culture or history but they walk out with a whole new appreciation for this ancient heritage."
Shen Yun performs January 8-10 at the Academy of Music. For tickets and show times, go to Shen Yun.com or call the Kimmel Center Box Office at 215.893.1999.