DETROIT—“It was beautiful to watch,” said Laura Chartier, who attended the evening Shen Yun Performing Arts performance with her husband of 28 years. They saw the performance at the Detroit Opera House on, Jan. 26.
“It was great,” Robert Chartier said. “I think it left a message about people, spirit, and energy and about some struggles that may be going on in mainland China that a lot people aren’t aware of. The show brought it to light in a very subtle way.”
Mr. Chartier was referring to a dance that tells a story of good versus evil in China today—the communist regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice.
New York-based Shen Yun has a mission to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China through dance, music, and song, according to Shen Yun’s website. This culture was destroyed by the communist rule, particularly during the Cultural Revolution.
The Chartiers established Okinawan Karate Clawson Dojo in 1996. They both hold a 6th Degree Black Belt, and teach traditional martial arts.
“Being martial artists, we completely understand the effort and energy that goes behind the incredible choreography,” Mrs. Chartiers said. “We are very enlightened about some of the oppression going in China right now, even in 2013. Who would believe it?”
She enjoyed the storytelling of the dance performances: “The stories are really great. One of the stories I enjoyed mostly was … the little mischief young monks.” She said that the senior monk comes upon their mischief and gives them a stern look. Mrs. Chartiers joked, “As martial arts instructors, we know that feeling: “Hey, you guys, knock it off!”
Shen Yun is the premier classical Chinese dance company in the world. “Classical Chinese dance has helped preserve 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Built on traditional aesthetics, it was once passed down among the people, in imperial courts, and through ancient plays. Over thousands of years, it was constantly refined, eventually developing into the vast and distinctly Chinese dance form we know today,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
“I enjoyed the male dancers a lot,” Mrs. Chartier said. “The female dancers are always beautiful, but the male dancers I thought were really strong,” she said, mentioning their aerial flips and tumbling moves.
“I thought mixing in the opera singing [among the dance performances] was a nice touch—how it integrated into the show,” Mr. Chartier said.
Mrs. Chartier agreed and stated that the soloist had an unbelievable voice.
“The songs were very passionate,” Mr. Chartier said and that that’s when he understood “their struggle to express their spirituality from the place where they live. I got that more from the songs.”
Mr. Chartier explained further: “It’s another venue to spread the realism of what goes on in the world today because what goes on in the media, we become desensitized to the strife of many people. You see it in the news that’s been going on in China for 20 years, but it is not as in your face. This is something that makes you realize.”
“We came out feeling this is more than just a dance show,” Mrs. Chartier said.
Reporting by Charlie Lu and Cat Rooney.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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