DAVENPORT, Iowa—”I felt the presence of God,” said Dr. Dean Ehrecke, after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts on its opening night in Davenport. “I felt the presence of God. God was here.”
“He was blessing all of us, he was blessing us. I felt joyful,” Dr. Ehrecke said.
Shen Yun’s mission is to restore “the true, divinely inspired culture of China,” as the New York-based company website states. “China was once known as Shen Zhou—The Divine Land. This profound name describes a land where deities and mortals coexisted, and a belief that the divine transmitted a rich culture to the people of the earth.”
The relationship between heaven and earth is found in many of the dances in Shen Yun’s program.
Dr. Ehrecke, an emergency medical physician, attended Adler Theater on Feb. 17 with his wife Cindy.
The couple has traveled to China and had seen performances there but “not as beautiful as this,” Dr. Ehrecke said.
It was like seeing “5,000 years of beauty,” he said.
Whereas joy encapsulated Dr. Ehrecke experience of Shen Yun, Janae Henningsen became reflective. She felt Shen Yun’s mission is important because she thought that looking only at a culture in the present can be limiting. “And so if you see it all throughout time and history and [at] different cultures and beliefs … than it can help shape a bigger scope of things, and you get a bigger understanding of truth.”
Drawing from 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, Shen Yun presents traditional spiritual values embodied in actual events, legends, and myths, mainly through the medium of classical Chinese dance, an extremely expressive dance form.
‘We hope for heaven’
The owner and manager of Mississippi River guest house, Ms. Henningsen, attended on Feb. 18, with her husband, Birger Henningsen, a graphic designer, and her father-in-law, of German descent.
Ms. Henningsen believed that although we all create our own meaning of life, for many, divine creation is an underlying principle. “And through [a] life of growing and consciousness, and faith and trust and understanding, … there’s got to be something better than life on earth, and we hope for heaven,” she said.
A few songs performed by award-winning vocalists are interspersed between the dances. Their lyrics, projected behind the singers, tell of the soul’s yearning for the divine.
Shen Yun aims to revive China’s ancient semi-divine culture because it has almost been destroyed over decades of communist rule. In fact, Shen Yun is not even allowed in mainland China.
This fact touched Robin Hibbs, an inpatient diabetes nurse specialist who also attended on Feb. 18.
Overall she felt the message of compassion and kindness and an understanding of our common humanity in the performance. Yet “one thing that I walk away with is, that … really touches me [is] that they really can’t perform this in China. They can’t have certain beliefs, and that’s a very significant thing that you walk away with.”
‘The beauty of the nature’
The Tates described their experience of Shen Yun as filling them with serenity. District superintendent of Davenport Community Schools, Arthur W. Tate., attended Feb. 18 with his wife, Cori, who teaches deaf children in the district.
Mr. Tate saw serenity in “the beauty of the nature” presented, and in seeing that “blended with the human and living in harmony.”
“I really enjoyed the choreography and everybody moving together. I was in the army for 26 years so I like everything to be exactly right and in time,” Mr. Tate said about the dancers.
The positive aspect of the performance also helped the couple feel at peace. Although evil can use art for its own ends, Mr. Tate explained, every spiritual path “has used the arts in some way, so certainly there is a connection” between art and the spirit.
It left the Tates feeling good.
To “all of the musicians and everyone, thank them for us,” Dr. Ehrecke said.
Reporting by Stacy Chen, Sally Sun, and Sharon Kilarski
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