Shen Yun ‘Authentic Portrayal’ of Chinese Culture

Epoch Times Staff
Created: December 31, 2012 Last Updated: January 1, 2013
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Mary Severhill (L) and Margie Tannler (R) enjoyed Shen Yun Performing Arts at the California Center for the Arts. (Jane Lin/The Epoch Times)

Mary Severhill (L) and Margie Tannler (R) enjoyed Shen Yun Performing Arts at the California Center for the Arts. (Jane Lin/The Epoch Times)

ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage at the California Center for the Arts, enchanting the audience, including two artists.

Mary Severhill, taichi teacher and watercolorist, and Margie Tannler, watercolorist and calligrapher, attended the performance on Dec. 31. 

“It was very important for this time,” said Ms. Severhill.

“Being on New Years Eve and the start of a new year, it gave me a sense of hope and uplifting, and to keep striving to what you’re trying to do,” she added. It also made her remember her dreams.

Based in New York, Shen Yun presents 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese music and dance.

“Do you enjoy beautiful costumes, exciting music, and high-flying dance techniques? Then you will certainly enjoy our performances! Not only that, but the universal themes of compassion, courage, spirituality and hope are hallmarks of Shen Yun,” states the company’s website.

The combination of the music, dance, and the themes in the performance really left an impression on her, said Ms. Severhill.

Ms. Tannler said that she needed to see “authenticity” and she found that in Shen Yun’s performance.

She visited China a few weeks ago and saw a lot of Western ways there, she said.

“It was important for me to see [Shen Yun] because it was an authentic portrayal of the past, whereas now in China it is not,” she said.

Shen Yun, established in 2006, has the mission of reviving 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture. “After more than 60 years of Communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished,” according to Shen Yun’s website.

“However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.”

Ms. Severhill said that China’s current state should spur a contemplation of priorities. One of the songs during the performance especially stuck out to the women, with the line “Don’t be blinded by money and riches.”

“Yes!” Exclaimed Ms. Severhill. “If you are constantly trying to achieve, and be successful as they say—you know, material wise—you are liable to lose your spirit. And so this shows that they all go together, body, mind, spirit.”

Ms. Severhill was struck with deep meaning after watching Shen Yun. “The heavens are with us in our lives,” she said. “We need to remember that and we need to use that in our lives. We need to have compassion and mercy for everyone because we all come from the same source.”

Ms. Severhill said that she felt this in the entire performance, but the last piece, Divine Mercy, left an especially strong meaning with her. “We are supposed to have mercy for each other,” she said.

Ms. Severhill really enjoyed the dance Phoenix Fairies, where, secluded in a faraway paradise, phoenix maidens soar with celestial grace, according to the program book.

“That was beautiful; it reminded me of water lilies,” she said.

Shen Yun’s dancers are complemented by an orchestra the melds both classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments, and state-of-the-art digital backdrops. The backdrops “are magical windows to completely different realms,” according to Shen Yun’s website, transporting audience members to settings such as Tang Dynasty pavilions and the Himalayan peaks.

The entire performance really explains “authentic Chinese philosophy,” said Ms. Severhill. Anyone who wants to know traditional Chinese culture should come and see Shen Yun, she said—especially her taichi students.

Reporting by Jane Lin and Kelly Ni.

New York-based Shen Yun has three companies that tour the world each year on a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit

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