ATLANTA—Maria Saul, a nurse, found out about Shen Yun Performing Arts at a booth at the hospital where she works. Mrs. Saul attended Shen Yun with her husband, Charles Saul, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on Sunday, Jan. 6 evening performance. “I really enjoy it,” she said.
Based in New York, Shen Yun presents 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese dance and music.
“It was a very good show. I liked the choreography, the outfits and everything,” Mr. Saul, an anthropologist.
The Shen Yun orchestra pleased Mr. Saul. “The music to me was very nice and very good. The melodies—that’s what I liked. It was good,” Mr. Saul said.
Shen Yun’s orchestra uniquely combines Eastern and Western musical instruments. According to Shen Yun’s website, “the distinctly Chinese sound of ancient instruments like the erhu and the pipa are bathed in a rich sea of Western strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass.” A Western philharmonic orchestra plays the foundation, while traditional Chinese instruments lead the melodies.
Mrs. Saul said that Shen Yun’s performance is different. “The music, the instruments, even the choreography, the colors, the costumes, everything was something that I’ve never seen before. Actually, I’ve really enjoyed that it’s something different you don’t see everyday,” she said.
“I liked the way they transcended between the ancient and into the new with how they were looking at the views of what’s allowed in China versus what was allowed back then,” Mr. Saul said.
Established in 2006, Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the ancient Chinese culture, which is traditionally believed to be a divinely inspired culture. After more than 60 years of communist rule in China, the culture has been almost destroyed.
“To me, it’s a shame if they are closing their culture off. The country is so diverse. Just from the show, it is a beautiful and rich culture. Why snuff it out?” Mr. Saul said.
Mr. Saul would like to tell the Shen Yun performers to keep up the great work. “It’s touching people like me. For a common person it makes a difference. You know if you can touch one life, that’s a great gift,” he said.
Mrs. Saul said that she would like to thank the Shen Yun performers because through them and through the culture, they are becoming part of the culture. “They’re opening our eyes … It’s a great show,” Mrs. Saul said.
‘The music was great’
Marvin Botnick also attended the Jan. 6 performance. He publishes a newspaper, the Jewish Georgian. He said that he was moved by “the music, the instruments, even the choreography, the colors, the costumes—everything.”
“We enjoyed it. The music was great,” Mr. Botnick said. “The costumes were just outstanding—they really were fantastic. They were just so striking.”
Traditional Chinese culture teaches principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom. Virtues are at the essence of traditional Chinese culture, which originate from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.
He noted how many references to deities and immortals are in the narrative dances, and said he considered Buddhist cultivation to focus on inner character improvement. “I thought it was more inner workings and trying to understand yourself,” he said.
Reporting by Mary Silver and Kelly Ni.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company will be performing at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre from Jan. 8-9. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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