NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.—Shen Yun Performing Arts, showing audiences around the world the 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, has brought tears to the eyes of many audience members and impressed them with the company’s message and beautiful performance.
Shen Yun’s final 2012 performance to a full house, at State Theatre on Saturday night, was no exception.
“I am moved and touched by the numbers that represent freedom and being free and doing the right thing and goodness and good over evil. The tears welled in my eyes,” said Debra Orenstein, a dance teacher at Mason Grove School of the Arts at Rutgers University.
New York-based Shen Yun has a mission to revive the ancient 5,000-year-old Chinese culture—along with its deep principles such as benevolence, justice, wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution. Though the company traverses the globe, enthralling audiences in more than 100 cities every year, Shen Yun is unable to travel to China itself because of the ruling regime.
“Forcing atheism upon society, the Chinese Communist Party has for decades launched various campaigns—most notably the Cultural Revolution—to destroy not only cultural sites, temples, and relics, but also the Chinese people’s belief in virtue and faith in the divine,” states Shen Yun’s website.
Reflected in Shen Yun’s program, along with tales, legends, and tranquil settings, is the modern day struggle of good and evil taking place in China. Falun Gong, a meditation practice based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, was outlawed by the communist regime in 1999, despite helping “over a hundred million Chinese people understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture—Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist schools of thought,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
“The regime has focused its powers and resources on a ruthless and systematic campaign against Falun Gong practitioners in an attempt to eradicate the group,” the website continues. “But Falun Gong practitioners have held firm to their beliefs and have continued to expose countless injustices through peaceful means. Their spirit of compassion and tolerance manifest the very essence of China’s 5,000-year-old divine culture.”
These scenes touched Mrs. Orenstein.
“The oppression. I am sorry about that,” she said. “Hearing about oppression in these times, my heart goes out to [these] people, seeing what they are going through.”
Amazing Dance and Music
Mrs. Orenstein and her husband said the dancers and musicians of Shen Yun were amazing.
“They are superior. They are masters. They are amazing, each and every one of them. They are superb. They are unbelievable. They were incredible,” Mrs. Orenstein praised the dancers of Shen Yun. “You could see the training from when they were small and the hard work, the hours, and dedication.”
Accompanying the dancers in the performance are award-winning vocalists, digitally projected backdrops, and an orchestra that melds Western classical instruments with ancient Chinese instruments, such as the 4,000 year-old two-stringed Chinese violin, known as the erhu.
“The live music is amazing,” said Mrs. Orenstein. “I said to my husband, ‘isn’t it refreshing, the beautiful live music and the orchestration?’”
The couple learned a lot about the Chinese culture, they said. Meanwhile, Mrs. Orenstein found the performers conveyed both emotion and compassion through the stories, the history, and the movement.
“It was flawless,” she concluded.
Reporting by Sherry Dong and Zachary Stieber.
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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