COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Cheryl Blackwell believes that everyone should see Shen Yun because of the message the performance delivers: “God is still around, and … He loves everybody, and for us to at least pray for the people who are in oppression over there.”
Mrs. Cheryl Blackwell and her two daughters were brimming with excitement after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Pikes Peak Center on April 5.
On its surface, Shen Yun brings the world’s best classical Chinese dancers in an all-new production to the world every year. But its deeper purpose is to save an authentic cultural heritage.
For thousands of years, the Chinese revered the divine and saw harmony among the Heavens, Earth, and humankind. Then, in 1949, the communists seized power and began campaigns to undermine these traditions, beliefs, and values. Today, people following age-old faiths are persecuted, and Shen Yun cannot perform in China.
Mrs. Blackwell had seen an advertisement on television for the classical Chinese dance and music company. The ad “said ‘hey, we’re going to surprise you,’ and Oh! This is the best thing for me—beautiful, beautiful,” she said. “I was excited.”
Her daughters felt just as enthusiastic about the performance.
“This was a performance of [the] year,” her daughter Ondrea Blackwell, a corrections officer, said. She enjoyed the dancers, choreography, the “bright and vibrant” backdrops, and the costumes.
For her sister, Bonda, a pharmacist technician, “there was never a dull moment.” She was elated that such a thrilling and vibrant performance would come to Colorado.
“It was never dull; you were always excited about what they were doing,” she said, mentioning that it was inconceivable that dancers could dance in one scene, change costumes, do another, change costumes, and then after another, and not be out of breath.
“The acrobatics were just off the wall,” she said. Difficult tumbling techniques are a hallmark of classical Chinese dance.
She felt the singing by award-winning vocalists was phenomenal, and loved the dynamics of the whole animated screen behind the performers.
She also felt the struggles of the persecuted people were important to know about, because life in America is so different: “I mean, we go wherever we want to go, we read whatever we want, we do whatever we want and for people over there to have such restrictions and come under such persecution—reading a simple book for us is nothing—but for them to have restrictions on certain things you can’t read or can’t do … we take that for granted over here.”
In spite of this oppression and the restrictions, she appreciated that Shen Yun has retained the traditional Chinese heritage of its culture. She had “a sense of joy, a sense of who they are [that] they are constantly reiterating through their culture, their dance, their songs, through their instruments.”
“To have that kind of heritage and not lose it, that’s awesome, and I will be back to the next one and bringing other people with me!” she said.
“Oh, it was awesome, awesome,” Mrs. Blackwell said. She was so moved, she wanted to stand up during the performance: “I can’t stand up, but I wanted to stand up and clap my hands and say yeah, yes, yes, yes! Everybody needs to know, everybody needs to know, yes!”
Reporting by Cat Rooney and Sharon Kilarski
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.