HOUSTON—As the curtains rose on Shen Yun Performing Arts’ revival of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization to gasps of awe and rounds of applause, the audience at the filled Jones Hall for the Performing Arts saw a hopeful beginning for the new year.
“[Shen Yun is] a beautiful start for the new year,” said Mr. Alejandro Klurfan, a senior project manager at AT&T. “I think this is going to give us a lot of energy and happiness, and starting [off on] the right foot, filling your soul with music, customs, and dances.”
Mr. Klurfan, from Argentina, had heard Shen Yun would be in Buenos Aires last year, but was unable to make the performance. When he and his wife heard the New York-based company would be starting their 2014 world tour in Houston, they jumped at the chance to see the performance.
“We are really, really excited—happy,” Mr. Klurfan said. “I think you cannot start 2014 a better way [than] this.”
On Jan. 1, Shen Yun finished its ten-day, ten-performance run in Houston. Shen Yun has been touring internationally for eight years now, and this season makes for the seventh for Houston.
China was once known as the “divine land,” and its culture said to be inspired by the heavens. Under the last 60 years of atheist communist rule, this culture was nearly destroyed. But, established in 2006, Shen Yun brings a new beginning, and to the audience in Houston, a hopeful beginning to 2014.
“It’s epic, motivational, a great way to start off the new year,” said Mr. Patrick Wayne, an account manager in Houston. “I think it’s very uplifting.”
Mr. Wayne had attended the performance with Ms. Johanne Sterling, a research analyst, and experienced traditional Chinese culture for the first time.
Ms. Sterling said between the beautiful costumes and movements, she just felt immersed in the culture. In particular, soprano Tiangling Song had provoked Ms. Sterling deep thought and brought hope for the new year.
“The Meaning of Life,” an original Chinese piece sang in the bel canto style, got Ms. Sterling thinking about how she wanted to go about life, and how she wanted to start the year.
“[It] was just a very good one for me,” Ms. Sterling said.
Ms. Alicia Woods, who works in real estate management, attended the matinee with her sister Shawna Kromer, and Ms. Kromer’s young daughter. For Ms. Woods, Shen Yun left her with “inspiration to be more gentle to the world.”
“I felt, to try to be more gentle to mankind, to be more gentle to one another,” Ms. Woods said. From the fifth row, Ms. Woods had a clear view of every performer, costume, and movement across the stage.
The gentleness of the art performed by Shen Yun embodied gracefulness and genteelness, she said.
Shen Yun had also been motivational for many audience members.
Adina Friedman is a student of Chinese dance in Austin. She was inspired and motivated seeing Shen Yun, not for the first time, in Houston.
“It sort of shows you everything that you can be,” Ms Friedman said. After seeing Shen Yun, Ms. Friedman wanted to keep in mind “to try to make people as happy as I can” while performing.
Shen Yun dancers perform classical Chinese dance and ethnic and folk dances from China’s numerous ethnic minority groups.
Classical Chinese dance is a vast and independent system of dance, with its own set of training, postures, and movements. The deep cultural traditions of China instilled in the form through thousands of years allow the dance to be richly expressive, according to Shen Yun’s website.
“I find it fantastic because you get this amazing combination of dynamic technique along with grace and storytelling,” Ms. Friedman said.
“I’m really excited to go back [to class],” Ms. Friedman said, wishing her classmates saw the performances in Austin as well.
Ms. Annette Radvansky, a personal trainer, drew inspiration and motivation from Shen Yun’s dancers as well.
“It’s just refreshing, revitalizing, and I’m ready to go,” Ms. Radvansky.
Both the culture and the beauty brought Ms. Radvansky inspiration, but her takeaway was a renewed desire to help others.
“It makes me appreciate the human body even more and it makes me want to take care of my body, and to help other people take care of their bodies,” Ms. Radvansky said. “It certainly makes me inspired, and gives me the ability to inspire others, I think.”
Ms. Wanda McGraw, a radiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Mr. Doug Williams enjoyed the grace and revival of the culture as well. Knowing Shen Yun was not a performance that could be seen in China, but still something the Houston audience could partake in was a powerful revelation for many audience members.
“That moved me to tears,” Ms. McGraw said.
But the message retained was not the loss of culture in the past, but hope for the future.
“It makes me have much hope for the future,” Mr. Don Griffith, a surgeon in Houston, said. “The future will be wonderful and joyous.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Catherine Yang
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.
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.