CINCINNATI—Educating the next generation of professional theater artists and supporting theater educators has been Ron Longstreth’s passion for seven years as a theater teacher and 33 years as executive director of the Educational Theater Association. His affinity for theater and how it can develop life skills and rewarding relationships is evident in his observations of Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company.
Along with his wife, Barbara, and three friends, Mr. Longstreth attended the performance of New York-based Shen Yun at the Aronoff Center for the Arts on Feb. 28.
“Sophisticated dance techniques, an orchestra joining instruments from both the East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop—this is Shen Yun at first glance. But digging deeper, one discovers a sea of traditional Chinese culture,” states the company website.
“I loved the show. I thought it was magnificent,” said Mr. Longstreth. This is his second time to see Shen Yun. “I saw it before, and I loved it then too,” Mr. Longstreth said.
“A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops,” states the company website.
From front row seating, Mr. Langstreth was impressed with what he saw and heard.
“I thought the lighting and the technical aspects were tremendous. I loved the orchestra. Watching them … they switched instruments with the greatest of ease. I was amazed that once they were through playing their eyes were closed and they were very silent. They always applauded the people on stage. Great support from the orchestra, and I’m sure the company must have a tremendously good relationship,” he said.
Right he is. Part of the chemistry of the performers comes from their shared aspiration of revitalizing traditional culture—a culture almost completely destroyed by the communist regime in China.
In an interview posted on the company website with Shen Yun principal flutist Chia-jung Lee, she recalls, “When I read their mission statement—using classical Chinese dance and music to revive traditional Chinese culture—my eyes sparked. ‘YES!’ I thought, ‘This is it!’ The part about reviving culture really excited me. It seemed like something very meaningful that could benefit the world.”
“Shen Yun’s mini-drama pieces draw upon stories and legends that span China’s history from the Yellow Emperor and through the Tang and Song dynasties and all the way to the modern day,” states the company website.
“They got an important message across to me, and I think to the rest of the people,” Mr. Longstreth said. “The message that we can survive, that we can live, that we can endure, and that life changes. If there’s a bad aspect, someday it will be a good aspect.”
Mr. Langstreth’s companions for the evening also enjoyed their experiences of Shen Yun.
“It was great. I really enjoyed it,” said Mrs. Longstreth, who retired from working in a law office for 43 years. As a ballroom dancer she enjoyed seeing classical Chinese dancing and said it was beautiful.
To enhance the storytelling capabilities of the dance and music, the use of high-tech digitally animated backdrops were developed for many of the 20 mini-performances.
“I enjoyed it very much,” said Teruko McGuire, a retired sectary and nurse’s assistant. “It is amazing, the scenery, production, and how transforming from one set to the other. It was just wonderful.”
“I loved it,” said Conrad Burton. It’s very outstanding and amazing. And the synchronization of everything was just wonderful. You see people fly off, and then the next thing they’re on the stage. It was just really terrific. I enjoyed it very much.”
Allen Black also loved the performance.
“It’s just amazing the way everything goes together,” explained Mr. Conrad. He found the handmade costumes outstanding: “When they come on stage, it’s really bright and catches your eye. … Everything different they did was just right on.”
Reporting by Ying Wan and Cat Rooney
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