KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Three generations of women with a powerful link to Chinese culture saw Shen Yun for the first time on Feb. 12. Grandmother Ruth Lynn traveled to Taiwan twice to visit her daughter and granddaughter during the many years they lived there. She and her family came to the opening performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company at the Tennessee Theater.
“I think it’s great,” Mrs. Lynn said.
Mrs. Lynn attended the performance with her granddaughter Ms. Becka Thompson, a photographer who works in television, who said, “I was there (in Taiwan) for 15 years, from 5 to 19 years old … America is still kind of an almost foreign land to me.” Seeing Shen Yun made her feel at home.
Speaking of the performance, she said “Oh I loved it, I loved it.”
Her mother, Mrs. Susan Thompson, is a director of children’s ministries in a church.
Ms. Susan Thompson grew up in Taiwan and spent 15 years as a missionary there. Because of her love for Chinese people, “This was very special to us.”
The spiritual themes in the song lyrics and the contemporary history in two of the dances awakened both empathy and homesickness. “That was my concern even more for the people there, in China, but the culture and seeing that again, made me homesick,” said Mrs. Thompson.
Traditional Chinese culture was once almost lost through the Cultural Revolution, according to the Shen Yun website, as the communist party sought “to destroy not only cultural sites, temples, and relics, but also the Chinese people’s belief in virtue and faith in the divine.”
Mrs. Susan Thompson said she appreciated the New York-based company’s mission to bring back traditional Chinese culture and let more people know about the great civilization. “I don’t think we should ever lose our historical culture.”
After seeing Shen Yun’s debut in Knoxville, “I want to come again,” said Mrs. Susan Thompson. The artists have visited Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga in previous years, and are performing in Knoxville for the first time Feb. 12 and 13.
The costumes made an impression on Mrs. Thompson.
“They were phenomenal, oh, beautiful, everything was tastefully done, just very nice,” Mrs. Susan Thompson said.
Her daughter noted the precision and perfection of the artists. In her opinion, their skill reflected their Chinese heritage.
“It’s all just right on point, it’s something they can do that really no other culture can, I mean it’s just wonderful,” Ms. Becka Thompson said.
Reporting by Mary Silver and Catherine Yang.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun will give four shows in Nashville from Feb. 15-17. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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