WATERBURY, Conn.—A Chinese-American man was moved to tears at a Shen Yun performance on Thursday at the Palace Theater. Jonathan Yu attended the performance with his wife, Tara.
“I enjoyed the show tremendously. I would do anything, whatever, to tell more people,” Mr. Yu said. “It moved me to tears.”
Mr. Yu’s family had immigrated from China to Taiwan, then Libya, and eventually to the United States in the late 1950′s.
“It [was] hard. But you know what, I’m Chinese and I will always be Chinese,” Mr. Yu said.
Mr. Yu, 60, works in the renewable energy sector. His wife is a nurse.
“This is wonderful because a lot of the culture is lost when being in another culture,” Mrs. Yu said. “I was so grateful for this little tiny hour that my husband can feel connected to … his culture.”
“He’s gone through a lot in this country … my husband is never soft,” she said. “[But] when he saw something this beautiful he wept … because he’s been separated since 1956.”
Shen Yun is a classical Chinese dance group that tours in more than 100 countries. Its mission is to revive a lost heritage that has been all but destroyed during the last six decades of Communist Party rule.
“There are a lot of cultural things that have been kept under for a long time. And so my husband just loved this production,” Mrs. Yu said. “Next year we’ll bring the whole family.”
Classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance forms in the world. Its folk and ethnic dances, along with story-based dances on legends, has allowed it to play a large role in preserving Chinese culture.
“China’s deep cultural traditions are contained in classical Chinese dance, allowing its movements to be richly expressive, such that the personalities and feelings of characters can be portrayed with unparalleled clarity,” states the Shen Yun website.
“It is so wonderful to see. The American idea of Chinese culture is manufacturing, it’s not true,” she said. “It is more than that, it is about art and love, a lot of higher art forms than just something you can create on paper.”
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “I cried so much that I have no make-up left on my face.”
Apart from dance, Shen Yun also has a live orchestra touring with each of its three companies. The orchestra blends Western and Eastern instruments to create a distinct Chinese flavor while maintaining the grandeur of symphonic orchestras.
A Shen Yun performance also includes selections from bel canto opera solists. Their lyrics represent the poetry and themes of traditional Chinese culture.
“The music and art transcends your mind, transcends your eyes and ears,” Mrs. Yu said.
An interactive digital backdrop paired with each dance. Shen Yun’s state-of-the-art backdrops set the scene for majestic Tang Dynasty courts, vast Mongolian plains, and cloud-shroud Tibetan peaks.
“Their singing, performing, every aspect of the show is excellent,” Mr. Yu said. “We love it.”
“It goes beyond just what you see. It is something of the soul,” Mrs. Yu said. “I connected to the culture and also the untouchable spiritualism of the universe.”
Reporting by Gary Du and Amelia Pang.
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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