WASHINGTON—Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick, hosts of TRAVEL’N ON, a D.C. travel radio show, were at the opening of this season's Shen Yun Performing Arts in Washington on Tuesday evening. The special invitation-only performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House enthralled the couple.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick spent her first year of law school in Shanghai and has traveled back there many times. She has worked as a federal defense contractor in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education, and a senior executive in another federal agency. Currently, she is executive producer and co-host of TRAVEL'N ON.
“The artistry was wonderful. … The tradition and the beauty and grace and the energy, it was wonderful, absolutely wonderful; I could watch it again tomorrow night," she said upon watching the show.
“I think the art history, and the creativity and the energy, the beauty—it’s phenomenal; I’m speechless. It’s so beautiful; it made me cry many times.”
The spirituality stood out the most for her.
“I loved the dances that focused on the spirituality and the humanity of people and the goodness and the redemption. I think that’s what really touched my heart. But I loved, because I’m a water baby, I loved the water dance and the costumes and just the artistry, the creativity—creating a water fall, water flowing—with a fan and scarf. It was gorgeous.”
Mrs. Fitzpatrick was enraptured by the entire show. When asked what her favorite performance was, she replied, “It’s like asking me what’s my favorite country; I love to travel and so I don’t have a favorite country and honestly every single dance was absolutely gorgeous.
“If I had to pick a favorite segment, I would say it was the segment with the erhu. Oh, loved that instrument, one of my favorites as a former cellist. It’s very close to the cello in richness and sound … but every single dance segment was gorgeous. It really touched me and it made me cry. It was beautiful.”
Erhu is an instrument that's commonly known as the Chinese violin. It can produce an array of tunes just with two strings.
She said that the erhu brought tears to her eyes.
“Beautiful things make me cry, and it was very, very beautiful, very rich.”
Mr. Fitzpatrick was an assistant state's attorney, special assistant city solicitor for Baltimore, MD and was assigned to the Department of Housing and Community Development. He also worked in private practice as a business lawyer. He is now co-host with Mrs. Fitzpatrick and chief strategist for a media company.
Like his wife, he found Shen Yun to be an amazing experience.
“I think the show was extraordinary and a fantastic display of Chinese culture, dance, music, and just a wonderful performance. For me I never experienced that before, first hand, so it was a first time experience, and it was a wonderful experience.
“One of the things that we like to do is to promote global citizenship, and cross-cultural understanding, and so getting time when cultures can come together, that’s all a good thing.
“Just having that exposure, seeing a part of Chinese culture, understanding some of the religious as well as spiritual underpinnings of the culture, and seeing how that speaks to so much in our cultures as [to] whether it’s your own religious or social perspective, its always a good thing, and you can see a lot of the universal ties there, and that’s all a great thing even though that’s a culture that’s 5,000 years old,” he commented.
Mr. Fitzpatrick appreciated many aspects of Shen Yun but was particularly moved by the spiritual messages of hope, tolerance, and compassion.
“Some of the visual elements in which folks, perished and then were taken to heaven, so to speak, I think there is a clear perspective of Judeo-Christian experience, in the west, so that was interesting even though that’s Buddhism; but there is universality there, that I appreciate.”
Mr. Fitzpatrick also appreciated the artistry of Shen Yun. “I thought the artistry was fantastic, and you see so many different elements.”
After seeing Shen Yun, Mr. Fitzpatrick felt that he had a better understanding of how traditional Chinese culture has impacted our current society. He explained, “You know, there is really [never a thing] that’s new. It's always a kind of "reinventionism;" it’s being done before, and so, clearly, you know, the Chinese have inspired a whole realm of things whether its dance or language and so forth.”
When asked if the couple would come to the company’s new production next year, Mrs. Fitzpatrick agreed.
“Absolutely, absolutely. In fact, I told some of the organizers that we would love to be a local media sponsor for the dance program next year,” she said.
Leigh Smith contributed to this article.
After staging one VIP show and six public shows at the Kennedy Center from August 25 to 30, Shen Yun Performing Arts will return to the venue with completely new programs from January 20 to 24, 2010.
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of the Shen Yun Performing Arts 2009 World Tour. For more information please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org