AUSTIN, Texas—The 5,000 years of Chinese history brought to stage by Shen Yun Performing Arts came close to the heart for Judge Billy Stubblefield when he saw the performance in the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Texas, Friday night.
“It’s very lovely, and it occurs to me that there is so much behind the dance, and we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as the culture of China is concerned,” he said. “It’s important to at least start somewhere.”
Mr. Stubblefield, who serves as a judge on the 26th District Court and is a pioneer in Williamson County, noted that some of the dances he saw weren’t so far from his hometown.
“The welcoming dance of the Yi, [Inspired Dance of the Yi] it seemed to me that it represents a part of China that is very confident and very outgoing, and I thought perhaps those folk-people, that folk-way may be more like Texas than anything else in China,” Mr. Stubblefield said.
New York-based Shen Yun performs traditional Chinese dance—mostly classical Chinese dance as well as ethnic and folk dances from the many sub-ethnicities of China, like the southern Yi ethnic group.
“I think that human nature is universal, and that I can relate to all of the emotions that are displayed,” Mr. Stubblefield said.
“I can see that—in fact in a number of places I saw—it parallels to the classical culture of the Western world as well. Universal human nature and emotions,” he said.
Classical Chinese dance is said to be impressively expressive by many viewers. In addition to technique and form, classical Chinese dance emphasizes bearing, or the “inner spirit” of the dancer that allows the dancer to portray each role.
“The performers are so adept at portraying these emotions through their movements. It’s easy to follow the theme and the plot,” Mr. Stubblefield said.
Mr. Stubblefield added that he enjoyed the spirituality of the culture as presented by Shen Yun. The stories told ranged from the beginning of Chinese civilization to tales in modern-day China, and a touch of the divine was present throughout.
In the finale, Divine Mercy, the persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Dafa under the current communist regime in China is brought to life. Themes of good-versus-evil, divine retribution, and justice and propriety—the traditional Chinese values Shen Yun seeks to revive—all prevail in dance and story.
“It’s a wonderful, peaceful sort of movement, it seems to me, as expressed here in this dance,” Mr. Stubblefield said. “If the entire world were more concerned about that, it would be a better place.”
Reporting by Sarah Guo and Catherine Yang
Shen Yun International Company will be in Austin, Texas through April 13.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.