RALEIGH, N.C.—Seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts felt like “an opportunity of a lifetime” for Ms. Nancy Jones.
“Oh, I love this show—I’ve been wanting to come for years,” said Ms. Jones, an account manager for a testing and certification company, after seeing Shen Yun at the Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts on Jan. 20.
New York-based Shen Yun performs classical Chinese dance, an ancient art form, and ethnic and folk dances from the 55 ethnic minorities of China.
Classical Chinese dance has been “passed down continuously within the imperial palace and ancient Chinese theater and opera,” according to Shen Yun’s website. With extensive training in movements and postures—“as well as as very difficult jumping and tumbling techniques—the dance is one of the most comprehensive systems in the world.
“I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the culture, seeing dances that have been around for so many years,” Ms. Jones said. “It was just beautiful. It was a beautiful evening.”
For Ms. Jones, the performance was a cerebral experience as well as a visual delight. It made her think of many questions, she said, “and I enjoy anything that makes me think of more questions.”
Ms. Jones noticed the different mentalities and ways of life throughout different eras depicted in Shen Yun’s dance pieces. She contemplated the relationships between the men and women of different times throughout the centuries, and “the way that the people were so happy about things that we take for granted in the Western world.”
Shen Yun stories span from “ancient legends” to “heroic modern-day epics,” according to the company’s website. One of the dances, An Unexpected Encounter, shows the persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Dafa in modern day China.
Falun Dafa, with its guiding principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, has enabled over 100 million Chinese to “understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture—Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist schools of thought,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
But, like other aspects of the divinely inspired traditional Chinese culture, the meditation practice is not in line with the Chinese Communist Party and its ideology. So the regime started a brutal persecution in 1999 against Falun Gong, but practitioners have stood strong, “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,” it continues.
The dance made Ms. Jones want to learn more about the subject.
“I’m looking forward to going home and reading the booklet so I can get even more information,” she said. “And I hope to come back next year as well.”
Reporting by Nancy Jones 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 visit Kansas Jan. 22 and Jan. 23 next. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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