NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—Gary Stein and his partner Karen Stakem are compassionate people. Perhaps that compassion was the driving influence that brought them to see Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Retired from the United States Air Force, the Lieutenant Colonel understands the importance of the two story-based dances depicting the ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in communist China today. He had a decided advantage in comprehending the persecution and also in appreciating how Shen Yun gives a voice through the arts to those who are silenced and persecuted.
“Most people don’t know [about the persecution] if they haven’t been in military defense. So I think that was a good thing to put in there,” Lt.Col. Stein said.
“The fluidity and grace was quite impressive,” he said.
“In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated a persecution campaign against Falun Dafa, a self-cultivation discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Dafa practitioners in China continue to face horrific abuse,” states Shen Yun’s website.
“Based in upstate New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts was established by Falun Dafa practitioners in 2006. The company’s mission is to use performing arts to revive the essence of Chinese culture—traditionally considered a divinely inspired civilization. Since the CCP is officially an atheist regime, it is afraid of the freedom of expression this arts company enjoys in the West,” the site says.
Lt.Col. Stein is very detail oriented. In order to deepen his experience of Shen Yun, he went to the website and read the wealth of information provided for those who really want to learn more about ancient Chinese culture and Shen Yun’s mission to revive it.
He recommends that those who want to get the most understanding of Shen Yun Performing Arts and their mission do the same.
Lt.Col. Stein has many talents. He is a retired licensed psychotherapist, and is currently an investor with real estate in Las Vegas. His partner Ms. Stakem used to be in the defense industry, as a webpage master. Before that she was a draftsman.
Close to hearts of both Lt.Col. Stein and Ms. Stakem is their joint venture, one they are deeply passionate about. They opened a rescue center called Pawpurrs Kitten and Cat Rescue to save felines from kill shelters. They often nurse them back to health before they find them new, loving homes.
‘I’ve Just Experienced the Sublime!’
Ms. Stakem was enchanted by the grace and beauty that filled her heart from the evening’s performance.
“I think it was beautiful. It was so graceful and it just … took you to another plane,” she said, “It took you to another level of beauty, and I don’t know, a quiet passion. It’s just beautiful, and it’s just etheric.”
“The music itself carries you,” she said.
Lt.Col. Stein added, “Orchestra’s fantastic. It was just wonderful.”
The spirituality of ancient Chinese culture was infused into every aspect of the performance. Ms. Stakem and Lt.Col. Stein were appreciative of that, knowing that the performance reached the audience on many levels.
“It was beautiful. You got a feeling of being there, being in the light and it just wrapped you up in it. It was beautiful, just beautifully done,” added Ms. Stakem.
“I think for a lot of people they don’t get [the spirituality] because it was done subtly,” Lt. Col. Stein said.
Even from the start of the evening, he knew he was coming to see the 2017 show. His first thought about this was “count me in” when hearing that it would back next year.
Ms. Stakem was reluctant to go back out into everyday life after the performance: “It’s more mundane and I’ve just experienced the sublime, and now I’m going back into the world I’ve come out of and I don’t want to now,” she laughingly said.
Lt. Col. Stein wrapped up his evening in a few words: “I think it’s three things, the revitalization of ancient culture that’s been destroyed, bringing awareness of communist rule and what it’s doing to it, and fun. Come here and enjoy it!”
Reporting by Thanh Le and Cheryl Casati
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.