COSTA MESA, Calif.—Bradley Michael Thalken, a retired lieutenant colonel for the U.S. Air Force and currently secretary for the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations for Western U.S., was highly impressed after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts Jan. 20 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
“I really enjoyed the show very much. It was one of the best performances I’ve seen in all my life,” he said.
Shen Yun is a New York-based classical Chinese music and dance company that tours the world with an entirely new production each year, from dances, mini-dramas, costumes, and backdrops, to all-new orchestral arrangements.
Shen Yun aims to not only display the splendor of Chinese heritage through vivid imagery and refined melodies, but to convey on a deeper level the essence of traditional Chinese culture, which is said to be divinely inspired.
Mr. Thalken seemed to connect with the performance.
He described Shen Yun as “energetic, fast-moving, flowing—I would say it was very flowing. With the energy flows—it kind of flows into the audience. I could feel the energy flowing into me, so that was a good thing, a very good feeling, by watching all the dancers having a good time. I wish I was out there with them,” he added with a chuckle.
“So that was good, a good thing. I wish I had that energy now, but I don’t have it anymore,” he added.
Mr. Thalken was particularly impressed with the last piece called Divine Mercy.
“I think the last one, with the Buddha and the importance of peace, importance of taking care of each other and being good to each other for the betterment of each other, the betterment of society, and the whole world—that’s what I took away from the show,” he said.
He added, “I hope everyone can take what I’m saying about the show and go and see it for themselves, and see what it’s about. It has a good story, and it has a great ending.”
Shen Yun’s mission is to restore and revive traditional Chinese culture, which was almost destroyed by the Chinese Communist Party. “Completely independent of the Chinese regime, we enjoy the artistic freedom of New York to bring these ancient legends and virtues back to life,” Shen Yun states on its website.
Mr. Thalken is aware of the human rights abuses in China, and he shared that his wife had a surprising experience while visiting Beijing.
“My wife was in Tiananmen Square and she was run over by some Chinese policemen trying to subdue some Chinese trying to do a little peace demonstration. My wife was almost hurt in that onslaught of the Chinese police force taking the Chinese demonstrators away. I was quite shocked that my wife was almost harmed by the Chinese government. My wife was a tourist, and I was supposed to be there with her, but I wasn’t able to make the trip,” he said.
He was delighted, however, to see in the performance more of the essence of China.
“The show was a wonderful rendition of Chinese dancing and Chinese philosophy, and Chinese religion, which I didn’t expect to see at all. I did not expect to see so much on Chinese religion or philosophy of good will and freedom of religion. In China, there is not as much freedom of religion as many people think there is.”
Shen Yun is something that can help Americans better understand China, according to Mr. Thalken.
“More people need to see the show and understand Chinese culture. The more we understand Chinese culture, the better we’ll be for both countries in the future,” he said.
Mr. Thalken urges people to see Shen Yun.
“Come see it! It’s worth it, it’s worth every dollar you spend on the show. You would not be disappointed by coming to see the show. Please, I urge you to come, even though you may not have the money, find the money and spend the money and come see it.”
Reporting from Chang Yi Yuan and Albert Roman.
Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform in Thousand Oaks at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Jan. 22 and 23, and downtown Los Angeles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Jan. 25 through 27. Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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