ESCONDIDO, Calif.—”The costumes were more spectacular than last year. Last year they were fabulous, but the costumes this year were just unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable,” said Ramona Weir after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts with her husband, Greg, Dec. 28 at California Center for the Arts in Escondido.
The Weirs, dedicated fans of Shen Yun, make sure to see the show every year. Shen Yun is a New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company with three performing arts groups, each with an accompanying orchestra, that travels the world each year.
“You have to go every year not to miss anything. This is our third year,” Mr. Weir said.
“Front row center,” his wife continued. “Front row center every year, because you have to see the faces of the performers. It just makes it so spiritual, so ethereal to see their expressions. It just adds so much to the performance. I’m sure it looks beautiful from the balcony, but to see the beauty shining from their faces, the expressions on their faces of the dancers, it’s just incredible.”
In classical Chinese dance, the emotive nature of the dancer’s expression is called “Yun” or bearing. “Bearing emphasizes internal spirit, breath, intent, personal aura, and deep emotional expression,” according to the Shen Yun website. Bearing is how the dancers share the deeper meaning of their movements with the audience.
“There’s just so much energy and beauty pouring off of the performers when you get to see them that close and see their faces. They’re just alight, alight. It’s other worldly,” she said. “It lifts your spirit. It lifts your spirit to give you hope.”
Mr. Weir enthusiastically agreed. “Yes, It’s not like a job. They’re just doing it for the pleasure and it shows.”
‘A Special Connection’
David Womack, an electrical engineer, and his wife, Sophia, a former dancer, felt a deep cultural connection seeing Shen Yun for the first time. Mr. Womack especially liked the dance Descending to the World, that tells the story of the origin of humankind and its connection to the divine.
“I like the fact that they go all the way back into the culture—how we are joined from the gods and deities. It just gives a very special connection to why we are here, and we don’t really start to live until we find out our connection, so I like that,” Mr. Womack said.
After the Cultural Revolution and over 60 years of communist rule, much of China’s rich cultural heritage has been lost. According to their website, one of the missions of Shen Yun is to revive China’s 5,000 year old culture.
Mr. Womack, who has traveled to China several times on business was touched by the freedom Shen Yun artists have to express themselves and share their culture as they tour the world. “It is very nice to see the language and the culture expressed openly,” he said.
Mr. Womack said he knows people who practice Falun Gong and he knows their stories. “So, that was very touching for me,” he said referring to the dance An Unexpected Encounter, which tells of the peaceful resistance of Falun Gong practitioners to the persecution they face by the communist regime in China today.
With reporting by Hannah Cai and Albert Roman.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will be heading to Escondido for performances at the California Center for the Arts from Dec. 28 to 31.
New York-based Shen Yun has three companies that tour the world each year on a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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