NEW YORK—Shen Yun Performing Arts lead dancer performing in practicum, Mr. Jeff Sun has liked art since a young age. He studied drawing and martial arts before taking up classical Chinese dancing. He also liked to study the history of the different dynasties in China and learn about historic heroes.
At the age of 11, Mr. Sun left China and moved to New Zealand, where with a free flow of information he found that the history he learned in his Chinese school had been distorted as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) campaign to destroy traditional Chinese culture.
“They suppress the things most precious to Chinese people,” Mr. Sun said.
In New Zealand, he said he was also faced with prejudice from Westerners who, through seeing what the CCP had done, thought Chinese people were bad.
“I feel that they did not understand China and its true culture,” Mr. Sun said. So when auditions to study classical Chinese dance in New York’s Fei Tian Academy of the Arts opened up, Mr. Sun jumped at the chance, and successfully entered the academy.
After years of training and performing, Mr. Sun understands deeply that classical Chinese dance is much more than just technique. “Bearing and form are also very important,” said Mr. Sun. Bearing is the way of moving that expresses one’s spirit and emotions; while form refers to specific movements and postures in classical Chinese dance.
For male dancers, masculinity is emphasized, and one has to show flexibility and strength at the same time—being gentle but unwavering is a characteristic valued in Chinese culture. “It makes you feel like a real solid person from within,” Mr. Sun said.
As accomplished as he is, Mr. Sun is also very humble, saying he often learns from younger dancers.
“They are very determined,” he said. “While others are sleeping or playing, they are practicing. When others are practicing, they also practice. When others are taking a break, they are still practicing.”
“The most important thing for me is determination and perseverance. It takes a lot of practice until you can dance well.”
His efforts have paid off. Hearing audience members’ feedback is always rewarding, he said.
“During VIP receptions, not one person would say that he/she doesn’t like the show. They commented not only that the dances, costumes, colors, backdrops, and dancers are beautiful, but also that that the show was very inspiring and holds a lot of inner meaning. They come to realize that this is what is so important, but it’s missing from today’s China.”
During a reception in Switzerland, a VIP told Mr. Sun that he had bought 200 Shen Yun tickets for his employees, and although each ticket was 500 Swiss Francs, he thought it was well worth it.
“I want to help show the world the true Chinese culture,” Mr. Sun said. “To help reveal China’s profound 5,000-year-old divinely-inspired culture, and to share with the world the true essence and treasures of an ancient culture.”