HOUSTON—Jolie Goins, an auditor, saw Shen Yun Performing Arts at Houston Jones Hall for the Performing Arts with her daughter on January 1.
“I thought it was very colorful, but very informative—I liked both [aspects]. Learning the history of classical Chinese dance, how it influenced the West with tumbling, et cetera, I was very intrigued. It was like a story being told, from history forward,” she said.
The mission of New York-based Shen Yun is to revive 5,000 years of divinely-inspired Chinese culture, through classical Chinese dance and music, according to Shen Yun’s website.
“It was rich. A very rich, rich culture full of history.” Ms. Goins said. She was glad China’s stories of the past were being told and kept alive, and that the historic culture is continuing, she said.
She said during the performance she felt excited and felt a lot of exuberance.
“I was on my seat listening carefully, watching carefully, as a story was being told. And the narration gave us the background for it.
She felt the narrative dances were completely clear and easy to understand even without the emcee’s introductions. “People talk about language barriers, but the story really just told itself within the dance. That’s wonderful, that’s when you’ve done a good job, when you tell the story just by the dance itself,” she said.
Shen Yun uses state-of-the-art graphics technology to create animated digital backdrops, “transporting the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one,” according to the Shen Yun website.
“The backdrops were perfect. I thought those added a lot, not just to tell the story, but also for a younger audience who need maybe more visual.
“For old people like me, the dance would have been enough to tell the story,” she said, laughing, “So to me, that was really exciting, with the multimedia brought in.”
Shen Yun is currently unable to perform in Mainland China, because of restrictions placed on artists under communist rule.
“It is outside of China that Shen Yun’s artistic creators have the ability to freely express themselves and their ancient culture,” the Shen Yun website says.
“I would like the same type of beauty that we’re seeing outside [of China], I would like those dances to be able to be performed in China. That would be what I would love to be able to see in my lifetime,” Ms. Goins said.
‘The performance was very beautiful’
Two university professors visiting Houston from China were also in the audience at Shen Yun’s matinée performance on January 1.
The male professor said the performance was very beautiful.
“I think it’s a good mix of pure art and storytelling,” he said. He said he did not know much about the Chinese ethnic minorities’ traditional dances; they were new to him. He said did know the Shaolin monks and the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West, which provided stories for two dances. “Amazed, I really don’t have words for it,” said the scholar.
The female professor said she loved the dance about the Monkey King, Sand Monk Is Blessed.
The male professor said because he had been living in China he found the story about the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners very interesting.
The female professor said she was happy that Shen Yun told that story. “We stopped talking about it [in Mainland China]. It was 10 years ago [The communist party’s persecution of Falun Dafa began in 1999]. “We don’t forget, but we don’t talk about it. It’s cool to see that we can discuss it here,” she said.
She said they had traveled to Hong Kong and seen Falun Dafa information in public areas. “People put up banners. Yes, you can see it outside of China,” she said.
Reporting by Catherine Yang and Sarah Matheson.
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 in Dallas Jan. 2-3. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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