SAN DIEGO—When Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage at the Civic Theatre on Dec. 27, the dancers’ grace enthralled the audience members.
“It’s just amazing to see how the human body can move so flawlessly and gracefully, with ease,” said Bob Moffitt, president of the Harvest Foundation. “I mean, these guys, the men and women, move as though they were floating.”
Shen Yun, based in New York, traverses the globe showcasing the 5,000-year-old, divinely-inspired ancient culture with a performance centered on classical Chinese dance, an art form nearly as ancient as the culture itself.
“Classical Chinese dance is composed of three main parts: bearing, form, and technical skill,” states the Shen Yun website. “Other than complete training in the fundamentals, it also entails systematic training in movements and postures, as well as very difficult jumping and tumbling techniques.”
Some dances are groups of male or female dancers performing in unison, moving and interacting with each other, while others feature both male and female dancers.
“The women are just incredibly graceful,” said Mr. Moffitt, with the men being more athletic. “It’s just wonderful to watch, it’s inspiring.”
The dancers are adorned with handmade costumes and accompanied by tenors and sopranos, digital backdrops, and an orchestra that deftly melds both classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments, such as the 5,000-year-old erhu, or two-stringed Chinese violin.
Furthermore, though the first glance of Shen Yun is “sophisticated dance techniques,” the orchestra, “beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop,” deeper is “a sea of traditional Chinese culture,” explains Shen Yun’s website.
“Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience. Originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, these ideals are the essence of traditional Chinese culture.”
Mr. Moffitt appreciated the rich culture imbued throughout the performance.
He particularly was pleased to see the several dances depicting the suppression in modern China of the meditation practice Falun Gong, a practice that is guided by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—and that “has helped over a hundred million Chinese people understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
“I like seeing that, because it gave me a sense of, ‘okay, there’s some honesty here,’” he said. “I appreciate it.”
The Chinese Communist Party began persecuting Falun Gong at the turn of the century but the practitioners “have held firm to their beliefs and have continued to expose countless injustices through peaceful means,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
“Their spirit of compassion and tolerance manifest the very essence of China’s 5,000-year-old divine culture.”
Mr. Moffitt’s wife, Judy, also enjoyed the performance. She praised the women dancers, especially, for their grace, “and also the flowing of the garments that they’re wearing, and the coordination, the synchronization.”
Reporting by Sally Sun and Zachary Stieber,
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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