ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—Shen Yun Performing Arts made its debut in Albuquerque at Popejoy Hall, on the campus of the University of New Mexico, March 5.
Tim Simmerman-Sierra and his wife, Angela, were among the audience members enjoying the performance.
Mr. and Mrs. Simmerman-Sierra are both clinical hypnotherapists and directors of Hypnotherapy Academy of America and serve on the International Board of Hypnotherapy. He is also author of Clinical Hypnotherapy: Principles and Methods of Practice.
They were both highly impressed with the performance.
“We’re fascinated with it,” Mrs. Simmerman-Sierra said. “The dance, the culture, the inspiration of the movement—mainly the arts and the culture that is transferred through the dance.”
Mr. Simmerman-Sierra said, “I feel like I’m getting a history lesson through the art. You can tell the discipline and incredible work that the performers have put into this. It’s very well choreographed. A lot of bright colors and beautiful messages.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts is a classical Chinese dance and music company that tours more than 100 cities worldwide each year with an all-new production. Currently in the midst of it 2013 season, Shen Yun has three companies simultaneously touring North America, Europe, and Asia.
The mission of New York-based Shen Yun is to restore and revive China’s 5,000 years of culture that was nearly lost over the past six decades of communist rule.
In a collection of brief pieces, each no more than 10 minutes, Shen Yun portrays ancient myths, classic tales, and modern day stories of conviction that embody authentic Chinese culture.
One major feature of the performance is the state-of-the-art digital backdrops, which serve as the setting for each piece and provide vivid images of various landscapes throughout China. In addition, the screen and dancers seamlessly integrate throughout the performance. Digitally animated characters descend from the heavens on the backdrop, then suddenly appear on stage, or they leap from the back of the stage and magically appear on the backdrop flying about.
Mr. Simmerman-Sierra enjoyed this feature, saying, “It looks wonderful.” He said it reminded him of the flying Daoists he read about in a book called The Wandering Daoist,“I’m very excited to be watching it. I really love it,” he said.
He and his wife were seated in the second row, only a few feet away from the orchestra and dancers.
By being so close to the performers Mr. Simmerman-Sierra said, “It’s like you go into China. You get to experience what I imagine it’s like to be in the true, ancient China, by virtue of the vignettes. It’s like I’m there. With the great graphics they have in the back, and the people dancing.”
His wife agreed, saying she feels “like we are part of it. The instruments, the music and orchestra are right there, so everything becomes one piece.”
Mr. Simmerson-Sierra particularly enjoyed a piece called Sand Monk is Blessed, which is about a man-eating ogre who plagues a village until kind-hearted travelers come to the rescue.
He enjoyed seeing how people came together to help one another. “I’m seeing a lot of community through all the vignettes,” he said.
Although the majority of the pieces in a Shen Yun performance include classical Chinese and ethnic folk dances, an important aspect of the performance is the vocal soloists, whose lyrics are brimming with philosophical reflection about human life and have deep layers of meaning, according to the Shen Yun’s website.
Mr. Simmerman-Sierra noticed the mention of reincarnation in the lyrics, and he was struck.
“We are very acquainted with the concepts of reincarnation, karma and dharma. … It’s just a timeless, perennial wisdom coming through. It’s really wonderful to see it up on screen,” he said.
Mr. Simmerman-Sierra then reflected on the lack of freedom in today’s China and the precious wisdom that might have been lost.
“I’m sad to see what is happening now in China with communism and Tibet; it’s really sad. And you see that skit with the meditators not able to practice their freedom of religion like we have here in the United States.
“There are so many timeless, important philosophical concepts that came out of China that are suppressed, or erased, that could [have been] made available to us now,” he said.
The piece he was referring to, An Unexpected Encounter, is about a father and daughter touring China, taking in the sights and sounds, when they suddenly get swept into jail with other Chinese who are persecuted because of their belief in the meditation discipline called Falun Dafa.
Mr. and Mrs. Simmerman-Sierra said they would recommend Shen Yun. “Oh, yes,” she said. “Go see it,” he said.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company is performing at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 5–6, and at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, March 10. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
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