Shen Yun: Expressing the Inner Self Through Dance

Speech pathologist finds classical Chinese dance made words unnecessary

Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 3, 2013 Last Updated: February 4, 2013
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Lisa Byank at the Matene Shen Yun Performing Arts on Sunday in Washington D.C. (Amelia Pang/The Epoch Times)

Lisa Byank at the Matene Shen Yun Performing Arts on Sunday in Washington D.C. (Amelia Pang/The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—Shen Yun Performing Arts returned to the nation’s capital Jan. 29-Feb. 3 for the seventh year, drawing its inspiration from China’s 5,000 years of civilization. Unique to China is classical Chinese dance that was passed down primarily in the imperial court, according to the Shen Yun website. Classical Chinese is a dance form that is widely unknown in the West.

The dancers must learn to express their inner character through the movements and hand gestures.

Lisa Byank said she could see the dancers’inner feelings. “Although there are no words, the dancers’ sense of expression is so strong that you can really relate and feel what they’re feeling,” she said.

She said that there were times when she would even cry.

The ability to express one’s inner self and connect it with the movements he or she performs is called “bearing.” Shen Yun’s website states, “It is this feeling—integrated into the movements—that brings something magical to the art.”

Ms. Byank, a speech language pathologist, could especially relate to strong expression where no words are spoken.

“This is my second time seeing this show, and I’ve brought my future mother-in-law, my father, and my fiancé because I enjoyed it so much. I like the uniqueness, the color, the music, and the technology,” she said.

Ms. Byank discussed how the dancing could effectively convey what it’s like inwardly to be deprived of being able to express one’s belief. “Particularly, the scene when the protestors were protesting [for] truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and I resonated with that,” she said.

She added, “Here in America we have our first amendment rights, but some people don’t have freedom of speech. The story was very, very moving and powerful to see people beaten down for the fact that they can’t speak their opinions.”

Ms. Byank was referring to a segment titled “Divine Mercy,” where peaceful Falun Dafa followers stand their ground when attacked but don’t fight back. Despite the harshness and brutality displayed in the scene, she said, “It was beautiful and elegantly done.”

With reporting by Gary Feuerberg and Amelia Pang.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun New York Company is performing in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center Opera House from Jan 30 -- Feb 3 For more information, visit

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