ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Watercolor artist Ashley Cooper said she is very inspired by the performing arts. However, on Friday evening, Feb. 20, she experienced the unique feeling of being an actual part of the performance she was watching.
“It was almost as if my paintings were coming to life,” she said. “I could see every color of my brush stroke performed in front of me, and it came so much from my heart.”
She and her friend, Levi Sternberg, a mechanical engineer, had front-row tickets to Shen Yun Performing Arts at the California Center for the Arts.
“I was just blown away,” said Mr. Sternberg. “Their professionalism, their character, and their passion [were] right in front of me, and just unwavering, perfect. Everything was absolutely amazing.”
Shen Yun is a New York-based, non-profit, performing arts company that aims to revive the 5,000-year-old traditional culture of China, which was long considered to have been a gift from the heavens, according to the company’s website.
Through classical Chinese dance, an art form grounded in China’s divinely inspired culture, Shen Yun performers can express the inner meaning of human nature, moral character, and traditional values, says Shen Yun’s website. The dancers are accompanied by a live orchestra with both Eastern and Western influences, vibrant backgrounds, and intricate handmade costumes.
With her artistic perspective, Ms. Cooper said she was struck by the contrast and the flow between the backdrops, the costumes of the dancers, and the mixture of colors. She said the dances embodied the energy and emotion of each color in the performance.
“When you would see this white, pure color, they performed very beautiful, just inspiring, [with] this pure light to them,” she said. “When they would have brighter reds or oranges, you felt this passion and this fire. It was very, very beautiful to see that come to life.”
Ms. Cooper said she found out about Shen Yun by accident during a trip to a local mall. She said she is usually bothered by the chaotic environment there, but that day she had to come to fix a broken computer.
“She just came out of nowhere with this beautiful presence and energy,” said Ms. Cooper, describing the woman who introduced her to Shen Yun. “I couldn’t believe that I found such a piece of harmony and love inside all of this madness.”
During the performance, Ms. Cooper’s sensitive spirit was also well-nourished by the benevolent energy carried by Shen Yun performers, and she felt herself enter a meditative state.
“I just felt complete bliss. I really felt no thoughts,” she said. “All the inner voices, all the chatter kind of just went away.”
Ms. Cooper said at one point she was practically in tears, but she didn’t even really know why.
“I wish I knew why,” she said. “It was just kind of this memory of this sound that came to me, and it was like an angel was singing to me.”
The painter said she saw herself very much a part of the Shen Yun performance, and that the performance was now a part of her.
Smiling from ear to ear, Mr. Sternberg could not think of much else to add except, “Wow!”
Professional Performing Artist: ‘I want to see it every year!’
Alexandra Mason is a professional dancer, actress, and singer, and while she was performing in the Middle East last year, her mother, Monique, bought Shen Yun tickets for them as a surprise.
“It was very magical,” said Ms. Mason. “I think everybody should come see this.”
“I’ve seen a lot of shows here and been in a lot of shows here, but this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” said her daughter. “I want to see it every year!”
Monique Mason is a fitness professional, owns a skin care business, and is a self-professed super-mom.
Alexandra Mason began dance training at age three and has been named a national champion for eleven cumulative years. She has also performed in music videos for Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson, and she’s starred in major-network television show episodes, commercials, and two feature films.
Miss Mason said she had been thinking about starting opera training, and the soloists in Shen Yun definitely motivated her.
“They were amazing,” said her mother.
“So fantastic,” said Miss Mason. They were also very impressed by the soloist who played the “Chinese violin” known as the erhu. Neither of them had ever seen the instrument performed live before.
Alexandra Mason was fascinated by the interactive animated backdrop, which extends the stage and allows the dancers to appear to perform superhuman feats, such as flying into the sky or diving to the bottom of the sea. Ms. Mason agreed, and said it was very well done.
As for the cultural aspect of Shen Yun, Miss Mason had come with some knowledge of the spiritual nature of true Chinese culture and history, and she said it resonated with her. She thought it was very interesting how China as a country is now in a state where the people are not able to experience or express their true heritage and ancient roots.
“It’s such a rich culture, and the people are so rich inside, and have so much for the world,” she said. “It breaks my heart to know that they’re not able to realize how much they give to us, and so I hope that in the future something changes, where they can revive some of their traditional heritage.”
“Very well said,” said Ms. Mason. “To a very appreciative audience.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Sophia Fang, and Sarah Le
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.