COSTA MESA, Calif.—“Wow, this year I’m even further inspired,” said Tynnetta Muhammad of her second time at the Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company performance held at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on May 7.
“It seemed as if we were moving on different dimensions, different energy was coming in, and that’s all a part of the thinking of those who are involved in the dance, in the singing, in the cause, and the philosophy,” Mother Tynnetta said.
Mother Tynetta, as she is affectionately called by the devotees of the Nation of Islam, was with a group of more than a dozen at the New York-based company’s pageantry of classical Chinese dance and music on Sunday afternoon.
“I think that everyone [Shen Yun] seemed to be perfectly prepared for this year,” she said. “I think it’s fantastic that they’re able to change the choreography every year to meet the theme of the moment.”
Shen Yun's mission is to revive China’s ancient, 5,000-year-old culture, thought to be divinely bestowed and told through classical Chinese dance, developed over thousands of years. These dances involve complex choreography, illustrating different aspects of Chinese culture, past and present.
A couple of dances depict the courage of Falun Dafa practitioners, a spiritual practice based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, which has been persecuted in China since 1999.
Regarding China's current abuse of human rights, Mother Tynnetta commented,"Regarding any kind of suppression of spiritual intentions and people who cannot have liberty, I think that is something that is contrary to ancient Chinese history.”
Mother Tynnetta, who traces her ancestry back to Kublai Khan, under the Yuan dynasty "established tranquility with all the religious faiths and allowed religions to worship without persecution or discrimination,” she said.
Her interests encompass a wide range, including traveling the world investigating history, science, and astronomy. She is also the widow of Elija Muhammad, who founded the Nation of Islam in 1930, in America, according to the Spirit of Maat website.
“Things change as the world turns, and we have hope,” she said. “And we have our prayers that there will be a new world, there is a new world that is coming in, and a great percentage is coming through the artists, through the performing arts, through the craft, through theater, through the dance, through the music, through the songs.”
'The orchestra was being conducted by a female'
Supporting each dance segment is the ground-breaking Shen Yun Orchestra's original composition fusing both ancient Chinese and modern Western instruments.
A composer herself, Mother Tynetta was delighted the orchestra’s conductor was female. “I was amazed—until she stood up [to take] a bow, I didn’t know that the orchestra was being conducted by a female, and I thought that that was really great.”
Shen Yun's three award-winning vocalists sing in Chinese, but the translated lyrics are projected in English subtitles on the hi-tech digital backdrop screen for the audience's enjoyment.
Mother Tynetta thanked all those involved with Shen Yun. “I was just amazed, along with all of us who came from Los Angeles, San Diego, nearby areas, maybe we’re a group of about 15 or 16 people.”
“One of the artists, from China [Eureka] that performed with us in 2009, she was also very, very happy to be here,” said Mother Tynnetta.
“I would expect that we would make it an annual event and invite more and more of our lovely sisters and brothers to participate.”
Reporting by Jana Li and Ben Bendig.
Shen Yun Performing Arts has three companies that perform simultaneously in cities across Europe, Asia, Oceania and USA. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org