NEW YORK—Shen Yun Performing Arts gave Eileen Flannelly, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Records, a new perspective of dance and Chinese culture.
“To see the history actually expressed through music and dance, it’s quite spectacular,” said Ms. Flannelly. “It’s a whole other way of looking at things, and really getting an idea of what’s going on. And we’re just loving every minute of it, really.”
Ms. Flannelly and her husband Tom Mackell, a business consultant, experienced Shen Yun at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater on April 20.
Based in New York, Shen Yun tours to more than 100 cities each year, purveying the traditional, divinely-inspired Chinese culture through classical Chinese dance, digital backdrops, and handmade costumes.
“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’s website “A unique feature of Chinese civilization is that its history has been documented and passed down uninterrupted for 5,000 years, sometimes in vivid detail. This provides Shen Yun with vast source material, making it possible to revive this ancient culture on a present-day stage.”
Ms. Flannelly said the artists of Shen Yun showed passion and compassion when performing, and how Chinese people care about reviving the ancient culture. She also said seeing Shen Yun made her aware of how deep Chinese culture is.
“I kind of had a general knowledge of was that Chinese people seem to be deeply rooted in their culture,” she said. “It’s not until you see something like this, that you understand the depth of the culture.”
And Ms. Flannelly and Mr. Mackell were discussing bringing their children to the performance.
“Just because of the beauty of it,” she said. “They don’t understand the concept because they’re too young, but just to see the beauty of it.”
Mr. Mackell said that the performance displays the history of China as well as the country’s modern situation. A couple of dance pieces show the persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice that has roots in ancient culture, and is based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
These pieces, and the overall revival of the culture, means Shen Yun cannot currently perform in China.
“I found that the mere fact that this can’t be seen in China is a pure indication of stifling someone’s beliefs,” said Ms. Flannelly.
Also attending the performance on Saturday, Khalid Samy, a math professor at the City University of New York, said that his first time seeing classical Chinese dance was a very good time. “I was impressed,” he said. “It was perfect for me.”
While enjoying the dance and the accompanying orchestra, which melds classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments, Mr. Samy said the digital backdrop was an amazing accompaniment.
“What captivated my mind was the screen behind everything,” he said. “There is a synchronization between the music, dance, and images behind the dancers.”
The Chinese culture throughout different dynasties and eras spawned a profound system of concepts that include a respect for the heavens and virtues that include benevolence, wisdom, and sincerity, according to Shen Yun’s website.
The Chinese culture that Mr. Samy saw in Shen Yun is something that anybody can understand, he said.
“This spiritual feeling is universal,” he said. “There is something deeper in this performance.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Ryan Jeffries
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is performing at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center through April 28.
The 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.