KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The recently inaugurated Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts was host to some of China’s most legendary heroes and sages on Tuesday, at the opening night of Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Editor, writer, and communications consultant Steffany Hedenkamp was in attendance for the Jan. 22 evening show and said the experience was extraordinary.
“It was wonderful to have [Shen Yun] come here,” she said. “This is a new performing arts center for us, so we’re thrilled that it could be a home for these kinds of performances.”
Ms. Hedenkamp has operated her communications company, Red Quill Communications, for nearly 15 years and advises individuals, companies, non-profits and government on their public relations strategies.
She said the traditional Chinese culture portrayed in Shen Yun was rich and profound.
“It made me feel honored to see and participate in such a lovely culture—so historic and meaningful,” she said.
New York-based Shen Yun is a world-renowned classical Chinese dance and music company. Formed in 2006 by overseas Chinese artists, the company’s mission is to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.
Ms. Hedenkamp was impressed by the grand scale of Shen Yun performances, which include hundreds of artists and musicians that work to present new shows around the world each year.
“I can’t imagine how they could create a whole new show every year!” she said, adding it is a great representation of China’s multifaceted regions and dynasties.
“I can imagine they have a lot of material to draw from. I was very impressed by the choreography, the various aspects of the entire country they’ve tried to pull through in each of the dances.”
She was also impressed with Shen Yun’s hundreds of colorful, handmade costumes, that are designed by costume makers to achieve “harmonic balance and contrast,” says the Shen Yun website.
“My mother and I were talking about the elaborate nature of the costumes. She’s a seamstress,” said Ms. Hedenkamp, adding they thought the silk fabric costumes were gorgeous.
“Nothing could be so flowing and wonderful as the silk.”
Though Shen Yun has three companies that simultaneously tour to every corner of the world, it cannot be seen in China today, where traditional culture and art forms are suppressed.
According to the Shen Yun website, China’s long-cherished traditional culture has been virtually destroyed under 60 years of violent campaigns waged by the Chinese communist regime.
I was struck by the historic, deep vein of spirituality that clearly has been with the Chinese for so long.
“I was surprised to hear that this kind of thing is not able to be seen in China,” said Ms. Hedenkamp. “I didn’t realize that there were those kinds of limitations on the art.”
Ms. Hedenkamp was deeply moved by the spiritual core of traditional Chinese culture displayed in some of Shen Yun’s dance dramas.
“I was struck by the historic, deep vein of spirituality that clearly has been with the Chinese for so long,” she said. “You don’t hear about that today in the media. You don’t hear about the Chinese having spiritual beliefs at all, but, obviously, it is true.”
As a mother of four, Ms. Hedenkamp said Shen Yun was also an excellent educational tool for children.
“It was wonderful to expose [children] to something that—here especially in the heartland—we’re isolated from things that you see in New York. It was wonderful to have them come here,” she said.
Reporting by Yue Su and Justina Wheale
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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