Former Ballet Teacher Touched by Shen Yun’s Flowers of Heaven

Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 17, 2013 Last Updated: February 18, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Sewing the Flowers of Heaven truly impressed former classical ballet instructor Tennessee Starlene Sykes: “It was very spiritual to me,” she said after watching that dance by Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville, Tenn.

According the Shen Yun’s program notes that described the dance: “In Chinese mythology, feitian, or flying apsaras, are celestial maidens that appear as heralds of great tidings. Dancers gather in this piece to sew a gossamer silk cloth with delicate fingers and airy grace. They unfurl their masterpiece in the heavens, where it scatters flowers of blessing for all of humankind.”

“Yes, several times I could feel the spirituality very much,” Mrs. Sykes said at the Feb. 17 performance.

New York-based Shen Yun aims to revive 5,000 years of divinely-inspired culture, by introducing the world to China’s traditional music and dance.

Mrs. Sykes, who taught classical ballet for 15 years, was accompanied by her husband Joe, an avid sportsman.

For Mr. Sykes, the perfection of the performance astounded him: “It was perfect. Being an athlete and seeing how [the dancers] work and how everything was just perfect, I was just—you didn’t see anybody that went the wrong direction, and it was just amazing; absolutely amazing.”

In fact, Mr. Sykes couldn’t grasp the perfection of the performance: “I don’t see how they could do that and be so precise. It’s perfect.”

At the heart of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, which trains dancers in the fundamentals, and also entails systematic training in defined postures, as well as very difficult jumping and aerial flips. Along with ballet, classical Chinese dance a comprehensive dance system as well as a tremendously expressive one.

“The performance was fabulous; it was gorgeous. The choreography was excellent; the costumes were just magnificent. And I’ve never seen such precision in dancing. It was just, it was excellent. We enjoyed it very much,” Mrs. Sykes said.

Certain moments captivated Mrs. Sykes. “When they flew to the moon, that was fabulous. … And the cultural things, the first thing that you would see is that the men don’t dance with the women one on one; at all,” she noted as a cultural difference.

In addition about learning of China’s past culture, Mrs. Sykes also learned about the ongoing persecution of people of faith in China today.

Under decades of Chinese Communist rule, cultural sites and values have been attacked. Shen Yun aims to restore what has been lost.

Reporting by NTD Television and Sharon Kilarski.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit

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