BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—For Mark Payette, CFO of Pacific Vines Grapes, watching Shen Yun Performing Arts April 28 at Rabobank Theater was a moving experience.
Although Mr. Payette doesn’t speak Chinese, he felt that there were no obstacles between him and the performers.
“The performance is inspiring and beautiful,” he said. “It speaks to you, and it doesn’t matter what language you speak. It speaks to you and touches you. It’s beautiful.”
Indeed, the New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company has chosen to revive the rich heritage of China’s 5,000-year culture through a medium that’s accessible to all.
Shen Yun’s website states, “Through the universal language of music and dance, Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired.”
Shen Yun features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers who train for months to and create an all-new production each year before spending the remainder of the year on a global tour.
“The choreography, the timing, [and] the grace of all of the dancers is just top-notch,” Mr. Payette said. “[It’s] an excellent show.”
A Shen Yun performance includes a full, live orchestra that accompanies the dancers and combines classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments. The Western brass and stringed instruments serve as the foundation, while Eastern instruments such as the pipa, erhu, suona, bamboo flute, among other Chinese instruments lead the melodies.
“It was beautiful,” Mr. Payette said. “The dancers were very graceful, the music was very well done, and I like that it’s a different show every year. It’s unique and it’s different from most shows that we get to see.”
Audience members often describe feeling peaceful while watching Shen Yun and how the performance warms their hearts.
Mr. Payette had similar feelings. He noticed how deeply spiritual is ancient Chinese culture.
“The message is a spiritual one, and it brings peace when you’re sitting there, listening to the beautiful music and watching the gorgeous performance. It moves you spiritually. It makes you feel godly,” explained Mr. Payette.
China has long been referred to by its people as the Middle Kingdom, and the “Celestial Empire”—a place where the divine and mortals coexisted and principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, and respect for the divine were deeply imbued in the culture.
Shen Yun proudly displays these virtues on stage. From the opening piece, “Salvation and Renewal” to the finale, “Hope for the Future,” the connection to the divine is apparent.
Mr. Payette plans to return in the future.
“We’ll be back again,” he said. “It was gorgeous, and we love [it].”
Shen Yun Will Make You a Better Person
Shen Yun will change your life, said retired massage therapist Teresa England-Bozman, who had tears in her eyes during the performance in Rabobank Theater April 28.
“It will change your life. This will change my daily life. What I think about when I remember being here, and the energy—this will make me be a better person, hopefully—really,” she said after the performance.
Ms. England-Bozman thinks she will now be more generous and more focused on trusting. “Things don’t just happen. We find a path and there’s always help along our path if we trust in the higher power,” she said.
The whole experience was highly emotional for her, she said, because of the depth of the spiritual ideas presented.
“I was impressed with a little video before I came, but when you come here, it’s a thousand percent better,” Ms. England-Bozman said.
On the surface, Shen Yun is a traditional Chinese dance and music company that gives audiences a taste of legends, literary tales, and stories from modern day China. But deeper, at its core, it aims to revive a culture imbued with the belief that the heavens, earth and humankind coexist in harmony.
The classical Chinese dance that most touched Ms. England-Bozman was “The Lady in the Moon.” In the dance, the couple is rewarded for a good deed by being granted immortality through a potion. Unfortunately, fate intervenes.
“When she got to drink the magic elixir and there was none left for him, that was very, very difficult for me. That was very touching,” she said, because the pair would be forever separated as the wife had to “go on to her higher self without him.”
Ms. England-Bozman was highly impressed with the dancers whom she said clearly worked hard to achieve the level of performance they did.
“They pour their hearts into what they’re doing. And when you’re here, you can feel it,” she said. “To have the personal experience and feel the energy—it’s fabulous.”
Indeed, the dancers do pour their hearts into their dancing, according to Shen Yun’s website. In ancient China, artists nurtured goodness and valued virtue so as to cultivate a pure mind when performing or creating their art.
Shen Yun performer’s follow this tradition, and audience members often say they can feel positive energy radiating from the stage.
Reporting by Marie-Paul Baxiu 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.