SAN JOSE, Calif.—Todd and Holly Whitehurst were in for a lovely experience on Jan. 2, watching Shen Yun at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.
The acclaimed classical Chinese dance and music company opened its Bay Area tour in San Jose with a performance rooted in 5,000 years of civilization.
Mr. Whitehurst is a director of hardware development for Apple. He was enchanted with Shen Yun.
“Ah, we really loved tonight’s show,” he said. “It was very entertaining.”
“I can see why people come back year after year to attend the show,” he said. “It combines dancing, singing, some humor, even some action.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts is based in upstate New York. The Shen Yun website states: “Shen Yun cannot be seen in China today, where traditional culture has been nearly lost. Yet Shen Yun—a non-profit organization—has become an international phenomenon, bringing the wonders of ancient Chinese culture to millions across the globe.”
“I thought it delivered a pretty powerful message,” Mr. Whitehurst said, “which is a strong message of compassion. I think that was delivered in the first act. I do really appreciate that.”
“I thought it provided a lot of entertainment and traditional Chinese culture around that,” he said, “but I did enjoy the fact that it does have a strong message about choosing compassion over oppression, which is unfortunately the norm in China today.”
A digital state-of-the-art background draws the audience into the enchanted and magical realms of ancient China.
“I really liked the multimedia backdrop as well. So the dancers would disappear into the screen, or vice versa,” he said. “I thought that was very entertaining and innovative.”
A dramatic and unforgettably beautiful sound is created by the combination of instruments in the Shen Yun Orchestra.
“I loved that,” enthused Mr. Whitehurst. “I loved the fact that the orchestra had some traditional Western instruments combined with a number of traditional Chinese instruments.”
“I like the fact that they called out what the names of [the instruments] were as well, and the individual sounds. I thought that was very cool.”
The erhu (pronounced “are-who”), a two stringed instrument played with a bow, has a history of over 4,000 years. Its voice can evoke deep emotion and produce exquisite music.
“I also enjoyed the fact that the soloists were exceptional, just extraordinary,” said Mr. Whitehurst. “Especially the one who was on the 2-stringed instrument from China. She was amazing.”
“I would not have thought you could get such a range of sound and such a powerful piece of music out of such a simple instrument. But that was wonderful,” he said.
Mrs. Whitehurst is an independent workshop instructor and writer of educational materials for Education Management Corporation (EDMC).
“It was a lovely production,” she said. “It was really visually overwhelmingly beautiful and graceful.”
“I liked how it covered a lot of different regions from China,” she said, “and it showed a lot of diversity in the costumes, and just the presentation.”
“It’s nice to kind of get a sense of the vast array of diverse history and culture that really came to the performance,” she said.
Two bilingual hosts lead the audience into each incredible segment with a short and often humorous overview.
“That was one of the educational pieces, actually,” she said. “To have that little bit of explanation before each performance, and giving the context of it.”
“I liked the fact that it was bilingually emceed. I thought that was a really nice, inclusive presentation,” she added.
Mr. Whitehurst summed up his experience of the evening’s performance: “Just amazing. Visually stunning!”
Reporting by Gary Wang and Cheryl Casati
As a part of its 2015 world tour, Shen Yun will play in over 100 cities on five continents, gracing some of the world’s most prestigious stages, such as New York’s Lincoln Center, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, Dolby Theater in Los Angeles and Paris’s Palais des Congrès de Paris.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.