WASHINGTON—The elegant Kennedy Center Opera House was the perfect venue for the January Shen Yun Performing Arts shows. The company of dancers, singers and musicians brought to Washington a taste of true Chinese traditional culture.
Artist Ms. Hill, who also works as a creative hair stylist, engaged with the show at a creative level and loved it.
"Oh my gosh, the show was so fulfilling. It was very enriching, it was beautiful to see the movement, colors, feathers and strings and handkerchiefs. Oh, it was so beautiful," she said.
"The costumes were really quite lovely. As an artist, it hit me in my fashion sense. You know, it was beautiful."
"The dancers were so poetic. I kept wondering how it would look from one of the tiers," said Ms. Hill.
While she effused over the visuals, Ms. Hill was also struck by how the performance conveyed a deeper message.
"It was very easy to see what they were trying to project," she said.
Ms. Hill said she was wondering if the company was from China or based in the United States because there seemed to be a lot that the company wanted to express "about freedom, about their freedom of speech and their freedom of belief, just like we have here in the states, and I caught that," she said.
Indeed, Shen Yun is a New York-based company that is explicitly independent of the communist regime in China. Shen Yun seeks to revive China's traditional arts that have been suppressed since the communist revolution.
"This show is about the soul and being passionate for humans in general. And I got that impression, I was seeing that in the dance. I saw the suffering, and I saw the enlightenment, I saw freedom and happiness," she said.
"Very beautiful and very lovely."
"I will also see them in New York. I can’t wait. I’m definitely coming back next year. It’s funny, I haven’t heard of these artists and yet I’m going to tell my friends in New York to go see it," said Ms. Hill.
Ms. Hill singled out the two pieces from the show as her favorites. Both depict poignant scenes in modern China where simple acts expressing one’s faith can bring about the wrath of the communist state.
In Astounding Conviction, a man on Beijing's Tiananmen Square displays a banner reading "Falun Dafa is Good.” Then, like the persecuted practitioners of the Falun Dafa discipline that he represents in China, he arrested and beaten by police, all the while remaining steadfast in his beliefs.
“That was beautiful. The dancers movements were so beautiful and so rounded, and his conviction,” said Ms. Hill.
Similarly, in Nothing Can Block the Divine Path a mother and daughter who are doing Falun Dafa exercises in a park also attract the police. The mother is dragged to a detention center and ultimately killed
“It was amazing to see the child too. In the story, the way the child was dragged away from the mother and the father, and she was saying to the mother, Please, please, please.’”
The entire show is enhanced by a 3-D backdrop with constantly changing images to transport the audience through time and space.
"I like the way they used the screen in the background and in how they showed the mother drifting off in the end, I thought she was actually going to come back to life. I’m sorry she didn’t make it."
"Thank you so much. What a pleasure to be here. Can’t wait to see it next year to see how it would change."
'The show speaks for itself'
Mr. Haddock, dean at George Mason University's Business School, also had an enjoyable evening watching Shen Yun perform.
"It is fantastic because it gives a very broad perspective on all the arts in China, traditional arts, and is very impressive," he said.
The dean heard about the show from one of the Chinese professors at the school and became interested to see it. He did not sound disappointed.
"I think that it would be received well by many audiences’ cultures because it speaks for itself you can see the story behind the dancing and the singing," he said.
Mr. Haddock described the performance as very comprehensive. "The colors of the costumes and the dancing, and of course the tenors, the singing was fantastic, the music, the orchestra is fantastic so it is a very impressive show."
During the singing segments, the ever-transforming projected backdrop displays pictures from China along with translations of the lyrics into English. Mr. Haddock, said he found this element helpful.
Mr. Haddock said he'd tell his friends, "It is an amazing display of dancing, singing and music."
With reporting by NTDTV.
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform in Washington, D.C. until Jan. 24, and then be in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 26-27.
For more information, please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org