ATLANTA—Humanitarian Don Smith saw Shen Yun Performing Arts at Cobb Energy Centre on opening night Jan. 6, and then had to come back for a second performance at the Fox Theatre on Jan. 8.
“What I’m seeing on stage is not just the history of China; it’s the history of the world,” said Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith is the former head of a successful local construction company who then started a humanitarian grassroots program to help villages in Africa and the Philippines become self-sustaining, and in turn help other villages do the same.
“It showed me the heart, the real heart, the spirit of the Chinese people,” Mr. Smith said.
The New York based company’s mission is to revive 5,000 years of the divinely inspired Chinese culture through art forms reflecting traditional Chinese values.
“I think it’s a very entertaining show and very well done and well orchestrated … and wonderful people that are doing the dancing,” Mr. Smith said. “Underneath all that, I think I have really have learned more so, the spirit of the Chinese people.”
“[Shen Yun] shows that people know that there’s a higher power, that there’s something that’s there for all of us if we can approach it and the show helps you approach that,” Mr. Smith said.
Traditional Chinese culture values “benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens.” But these values, and traditional Chinese culture, are not able to be expressed in China today, according to Shen Yun’s mission statement, and Shen Yun has not been allowed to perform in China since its inception in 2006.
Mr. Smith said he had studied the works of famous Chinese philosophers, and connected with the “mandate of heaven.”
“A heavenly ruler is someone who really cares for the people, not for himself but for the people. When we have that kind of ruler, then you have a good society, then you have freedom, you have prosperity, you have happiness, you have everything that anybody wants, and that’s what everybody in the world wants,” Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Smith said he was very moved by the spirituality of the culture presented, particularly in the opening and closing dances of the show, which take the audience from the inception of Chinese civilization, to the revival of traditional Chinese culture in present day China.
“You need a government that’s benevolent to the people and that’s what the Chinese people need but it’s up to the people to bring that about,” Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Smith said he saw on stage that what people around the world want is the same, and that “they don’t come from us. They come from some power above us, stronger than us, and we need to get in harmony with that. That’s what I think. Plus … the show was entertaining and the dancers were wonderful.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Catherine Yang.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company will present one more performance at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on Jan. 9. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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