WASHINGTON—Ms. Hackett studied acupuncture in China. She came to the Kennedy Center to see Shen Yun. She had been looking forward to seeing how the renowned New York-based artists presented Chinese traditional culture.
Her first words after the performance were that the show "was really a breath of fresh air."
Explaining that thought, she said, "There is a definite heaviness [in China]. It’s almost like a feeling of lockdown on the people and it’s not easy to describe it. You have to really experience it. So, to see the dance tonight, it was almost like seeing a secret side of the Chinese people."
"It brings out more of the ancient culture and the ideals that have been kind of suppressed." She noted two dances about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, "and also they are very upfront about the persecution that they’re facing as a group, as a sub-cultural group."
The Shen Yun show also "brought out dance styles of specific cultural groups that have been heavily suppressed by the Chinese government, so there was a definite message throughout the whole show."
Having seen many cultural shows and dance performances, she said, "I think this was one of the most impressive [performances] because of the number of dancers and how carefully they timed everything and how there was so much unison. It was almost like they [the dancers] existed in a group consciousness together, because they were just so perfectly timed and synced."
"Especially the fan dance, with the clouds and handkerchiefs, that was really magical."
There were dances from a number of China's regions, and Ms. Hackett described the show as "layered."
Giving more detail, she said, "Layered because of the message. There are so many different layers of messages. I thought it was interesting how they’re trying to bring the ancient Buddhist culture in China without focusing on martial arts. This wasn’t even used in the dance routines. There were no martial arts moves in the dance routines, so I thought that was amazing that they were able to eliminate that and still have an ethnic Chinese dance performance that was broad in design. So that was very impressive."
She summarized her thoughts: "I studied a little while in China, and I found that what was represented in this show seemed to show more of the true Chinese spirit, the heart of the Chinese people, more. It’s hard to get to really know people in China, because I think people are a little bit afraid, even if they show a smile. So, it was really wonderful to see."
With reporting by Jan Jekielek, Xiong Ximing and Anna Skibinsky.
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform in Washington, D.C. from Jan. 19-24.
For more information, please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.