SAN FRANCISCO—The War Memorial Opera House was full during Shen Yun’s second performance in San Francisco this year, drawing people from all around the Bay Area.
The Hess family came from Sacramento to see Shen Yun and spent the weekend exploring San Francisco. Although Shen Yun will be traveling to Sacramento next week, they wanted to see Shen Yun at the Opera House.
Together, George and Kimberly Hess own the business George Hess Construction, a business that has been in the family for over 30 years.
They also used to be involved with the performing arts. So in addition to performing arts carrying nostalgia for the beginnings of their relationship, they also know a thing or two about the subject.
Mrs. Hess was amazed by the dancers’ precision and color coordination.
“The precision—it’s spectacular. And the colors, oh my gosh, the colors are just breathtaking! The precision placement of all the people on the stage is just amazing. Everybody is just perfectly placed. It’s really quite astounding,” said Mrs. Hess.
“I loved the girls and how they move with their little feet—they just glide. I just loved that about them. It’s just beautiful. Just a beautiful production!” said Mrs. Hess.
“The music is lovely! It’s just enchanting,” she said, referring to the live Shen Yun Orchestra that accompanies each dance piece.
Shen Yun’s website reads, “A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops—together creating one spectacular performance.”
Mrs. Hess enjoyed the backdrop and appreciated how the backdrop did not take away from the show’s focus, the dancers.
“I loved the way they integrated the backdrops with the people—how they come to life onstage. That’s really fun,” she said.
“That takes a lot of preparation. But it also keeps the cost of sets down and moving. Creating big sets that you have to move is no fun. So doing it digitally like that—that’s wonderful. But the focus is on the performers, you know, it’s not about the sets. It’s about these incredibly talented people.
Other than ethnic and folk dance pieces, most of what the audience experiences during a Shen Yun performance is classical Chinese dance.
Shen Yun’s website states, “Classical Chinese dance is a culture left to us by the ancients who came before us, its beauty should be riches shared by all of humanity, its purity should not be contaminated. Shen Yun Performing Arts’ dance style is built upon classical Chinese dance as a foundation, while also maintaining a number of ethnic and folk dances. This combination embodies Chinese people’s aestheticism and ethnic character.”
Both Mrs. Hess and her friend, Jen, enjoyed the dance piece entitled Mongolian Chopsticks, where, according to the Shen Yun program book, “Dancers use chopsticks to create a crisp, staccato beat that quickens the blood and stirs the heart.”
“Loved the last number. That was great,” said Mrs. Hess. “I think I like the extra sound of it and just the high energy of it.”
Jen added about the chopsticks dance, “Just the animation of it. The extra sound and getting on time with each hit is really, really difficult.” Jen works as a winery manager and has been dancing basically since she was born, she says.
“I love it. I was really excited initially to come and see it just because of the color of it. I love how bright and vibrant everything is,” Jen said. She also said she really enjoyed the live orchestral accompaniment.
“I love having an orchestra instead of a soundtrack. It’s much more meaningful and better—I think it’s a little bit classier, as well. Big production,” Jen said.
Perhaps the most moving piece of the performance for Mrs. Hess was The Steadfast Lotus, where a family of Falun Gong practitioners—a spiritual meditation practice that has been illegally persecuted in China since 1999—is shattered when their mother is beaten and taken away by Communist Party police. The Shen Yun program book elaborates, “In a plot that mirrors countless present-day stories of Chinese families torn apart, the daughter endures tribulations searching for her mother, until her steadfast faith gives her newfound hope.”
“Considering the spiritual nature, and when the lotus—the lotus number was very moving,” said Mrs. Hess. “With the oppression, and people standing up for their beliefs and their spirituality—it was a very moving piece. It was very moving,” she said.
The Hess family thoroughly enjoyed the performance, which made for a wonderful trip to the City and start to the New Year. Mrs. Hess’s friends are eagerly waiting for her reviews of the show!
“We have many people who are waiting for us to see it and say how we liked the production. So yeah, we will encourage people. Particularly since it’s moving up our direction [Sacramento]. People are there waiting to get tickets for the show. And we have friends in Portland who said that they’ve heard of it, and they really want our review. So we’re looking forward to telling them—they would thoroughly enjoy it.”
Reporting by Qian Zhang
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.