SAN FRANCISCO—The last curtain closed Jan. 11, bringing to an end Shen Yun Performing Arts’ successful 2015 World Tour season at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House. Next year, the classical Chinese dance and music company returns with an entirely new program.
Wanda Bishop, a professor of physical education, was in the audience at the New York-based company’s exhilarating presentation.
“The dance was gorgeous. I loved the gymnastics, the moving of the bodies and the beautiful splits in the air—and the flips were gorgeous,” Ms. Bishop said.
According to Shen Yun’s website, many of the techniques we see in gymnastics today in fact have been part of classical Chinese dance for thousands of years.
The website states, “When audience members see our dancers … fly across the stage, they often say things like: ‘I loved the acrobatics,’ or ‘the flexibility reminded me of gymnastics.’ But these moves come from neither gymnastics nor acrobatics. They actually all originate from classical Chinese dance.”
Ms. Bishop was also impressed watching the animated digital backdrops and the dancers onstage interacting in perfect harmony with the Shen Yun orchestral tempo and the projector screen.
“I loved the video in the back, and then people come flying down. Don’t you love that? And then they pop right out onstage.”
A series of mini-dramas are integral to a Shen Yun presentation. “Shen Yun dances recount ancient myths, bygone heroes, or celestial paradises,” the website explains.
One such drama followed the story of Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, a peaceful meditation practice. In The Power of Compassion, Falun Gong has been persecuted continuously in China since 1999 by the communist regime. Ms. Bishop loves meditation, so now she wants to learn to find a way to stop the persecution.
“I think it might be a fascinating meditation. It’s unfortunate people can’t meditate Falun Dafa in China. You can do it everywhere else, but not China. I got that message, and I also got the message that it was an uplifting meditation.”
Ms. Bishop said most of her friends meditate. So she would say to them, “[Falun Dafa] is a good thing to try, let’s try it. And then I would say, there’s nothing we can do for China. As just a citizen of the world, there’s nothing we really can do, except—except what? Do you have an idea?” she asked. “I would love a way [to help].”
Ms. Bishop saw in the entire Shen Yun production a complete story. Beginning from the opening dance, Following the Creator to Renew All Things, to the end, The Divine Renaissance Begins.
‘Visually, it’s incredible’
Also among the receptive audience was Heather Dennis, asset manager at Wells Fargo Bank.
“I loved the show! It’s great,” Ms. Dennis said. “Just the technique and the discipline, and it’s just beautiful with all the colors and the scenery behind it, it’s very interesting. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Inspired by 5,000 years of divine culture, Shen Yun’s website summarizes the performance:
“Heavenly realms and timeless legends spring to life through classical Chinese dance. Dazzling costumes, thunderous battle drums, and powerful flips fill the stage with color and energy. Exquisite melodies and animated backdrops uplift your spirit and transport you to another world.”
Two story dances, Sleeves of Grace and Chopsticks Dance of the Mongolian Ladies caught Ms. Dennis’ attention.
“That was great,” Ms. Dennis said. “The way they use the fabric, the colors in the fabric … the flow of their outfits. It kind of becomes part of the show. Visually, it’s really incredible to see.”
Technical analyst for Wells Fargo Bank, Matthew Forsland, accompanied by his wife, Noor Al Forsland, property manager for the government, were also in the audience.
“It was very entertaining; I loved to see the 5,000-year history, the musicality—and the actual performances were very entertaining,” Ms. Forsland said.
As a technical person, the animated digital backdrops particularly intrigued Mr. Forsland.
Shen Yun website explains: “The backdrops are magical windows to completely different realms. From vast open grasslands in one dance to the stately elegance of Tang Dynasty pavilions in another … the digital projection infinitely expands and transforms the stage.”
Ms. Forsland said Shen Yun’s presentation was “very family friendly.” She also recognized the message of peace and compassion in the story dance, The Power of Compassion.
“They had a message of peace and showing compassion and of respecting things of the world,” she said.
Reporting by Alex Ma and Raiatea Tahana-Reese
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.