MESA, Ariz.—Shen Yun Performing Arts delighted audience members at the Ikeda Theater Feb. 28 on the first night of a seven-performance run in the Greater Phoenix area.
Sharice Heller, who attended the performance with her husband, was deeply touched.
“It’s a life-changing experience. Everything that you felt was bringing darkness into your life, it brought new hope and light into it, seeing how this all transcends beyond what is happening [in the world] now,” she said.
If she had a chance to speak with the performers, Mrs. Heller said she would say, “thank you from the bottom of my heart.
“It really moved me and brought me back to home, to a place I hadn’t visited in a long time,” she said.
Shen Yun is a New York-based classical Chinese dance company that tours 100 cities around the world each year. Currently in the midst of its 2013 season, Shen Yun has three companies that are currently performing in North America, Europe, and Asia.
The mission of Shen Yun is to revive China’s 5,000 years of divinely inspired culture through the universal language of music and dance. “Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture,” according to the company’s website.
Mrs. Heller, who is currently managing a business, said she used to be an artist.
She recognized and identified with the universal themes displayed in the performance.
“I love the show, because it speaks to the universal harmony of color, nature, humanity, and civilization,” she said. She said she could see the same universal spirit in other traditional cultures.
Traditional Chinese culture is deeply steeped in spirituality and a reverence for the divine. This aspect of Shen Yun resonated with Mrs. Heller.
“I love the elegance, the beauty of the dancers, and the joy that they brought—I loved that,” she said, adding that she loved the piece Dancing for the Gods, which features Tibetan dance amidst the towering Himalayas. This piece, according to the program book, “showcases the energy, power, and grace of traditional Tibetan dance, expressing a spirited beauty in the face of adversity.”
She said that one can see the same inner spirit in traditional cultures around the world.
“It spoke to me of harmony and hope, and I found it very sad that it can’t be shown in their own country,” Mrs. Heller said.
Mrs. Heller was referring to the fact that Shen Yun is not permitted to perform in today’s communist China, which, in the past 60 years, has nearly destroyed China’s 5,000-year-old traditional culture.
“Because our spiritual being is the essence of all art, dance, singing, music, painting, sculpture, it can’t be limited,” she said. “But the hopeful thing about it is, it will always last. Look at the beauty they brought with this, and they united it with the technological wonders of today with that digital screen; it was beautifully balanced. So it spoke of balance, harmony, and peace and hope.”
In addition to dance, Shen Yun features innovative digital backdrops that provide vivid imagery for audiences, extending the stage and transporting them to different realms.
Mrs. Heller was impressed with the combination of ancient culture and modern technology.
Another feature of the performance is the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra, which is unique because it combines traditional Chinese and classical Western instruments to create a distinct harmony.
“The ensemble at once expresses both the grandeur of a Western orchestra with the distinct sensibilities of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization,” according to the Shen Yun website.
Mrs. Heller found symbolism in the orchestra.
“Oh, I loved it—that again was the part of the ‘we’re all one’ [theme]. Everybody is part of the same universe, and even though you and I look different, come from totally different backgrounds, that inner strength and beauty of both of us together make a new one. And we can do that as all one people together, embracing the spirit of life.”
With reporting by Alice Su and Albert Roman.
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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