WATERBURY, Conn.—China is a vast country and its ethnic groups are many—56, in fact—each with its own customs and dances.
So it was no wonder that the folk and ethnic dances were some of the first things to come to mind as writer and traveler Dr. Gerard Brooker recounted his experience of Shen Yun Performing Arts after attending a performance with Julia Bauer at the Palace Theater on Feb. 14.
Through classical Chinese dance, New York-based Shen Yun brings the folk dances of many regions and ethnicities to the stage, along with stories of China’s rich, 5,000-year history.
There was a Mongolian dance, for instance, that “was particularly gorgeous.” The male dancers, in a quick-stepping and lively dance, evoked images of eagles and wild stallions in the Mongolian grasslands, according to the program. The dancers also played thin paddle-drums in the energetic ethnic dance.
It was beautiful, and reminded Dr. Brooker of the week he spent in Mongolia as he often travels to learn and to do humanitarian work. There was also a Tibetan dance, where the female dancers had long white sleeves to represent the “khata” scarves offered in respect, reminiscent of his travels to Tibet.
Until the age of 13, he had never gotten farther than the block he lived on in New York City. But then he decided, why not? And has since traveled to all seven continents and over 100 countries. As he started to travel, he developed a humanitarian approach, looking for ways and efforts to help hungry kids eat, and to open opportunities for students to come together in peace, like initiating conferences for students all around the world.
Like Shen Yun, which was formed in 2006 with the mission to revive the authentic traditional Chinese culture, Dr. Brooker believes there is much to be learned from the past. It is why he writes books, he states on his website. “If we do not know the past, we are hopelessly destined to repeat it.” This fall, he plans to travel to China to work in an orphanage.
The culture Shen Yun brings to the world stage is said to be divinely inspired. Under the communist regime, the traditional beliefs and values present in the art have been oppressed, and thus Shen Yun has not been able to perform in China.
That’s to be expected, according to Dr. Brooker, but what Shen Yun is doing is positive.
He said he felt the spirituality of the culture coming through the performance. “It’s respect for each other. It’s not what I’d call religious—spiritual. It’s reflective of their common humanity, their respect for each other, and love of the land. It all comes through in a great touch of natural spirituality,” he said. “It’s very uplifting.”
Ms. Bauer felt similarly. “It’s just got a positive vibe,” she said.
Reporting by Weiyong Zhu and Catherine Yang
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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.