SAN FRANCISCO—“In the East, the lotus has long been a symbol of purity and divine perfection. … Dancers holding long silken fans glide across the stage like celestial fairies in flight,” reads the program book for the Shen Yun dance segment Lotus Fairies.
Shen Yun, based in New York, is the premier classical Chinese dance company in the world.
Barbara Thomas, a retired analyst for IBM, was in the audience at the War Memorial Opera House on Jan. 5.
“The lotus flowers with the big large fans, the pink fans, I loved that one,” she said, recalling the performance. “The fans were beautiful, the movement, the color. It was just like floating; it was just beautiful.”
Crystal Palmer chimed in, agreeing with Ms. Thomas’ sentiments. Ms. Palmer is a professional volleyball player and coach who most recently played in Europe.
“It was really visually stimulating,” she said. “I enjoyed all the colors and movements of the performers. It was really beautiful.”
Shen Yun’s mini-drama pieces draw upon stories and legends that span China’s history, from the Yellow Emperor through the Tang and Song dynasties and all the way to the modern day, according the company website.
“It was really vivid. I just enjoyed watching it,” said Eryk Thomas, Ms. Thomas’ son, and a professional basketball player who has played in Europe and South America.
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 the present-day stage.
Ms. Palmer enjoyed the story of the people who were persecuted for practicing Falun Dafa in modern-day China.
“It was a really beautiful way to tell a story that I am not familiar with. It was education but also really visually stimulating,” she said.
The curtain opens to a scene, in Buddha’s Compassion Shines Forth, of Falun Dafa followers peacefully practicing their meditative exercises around the world. The scene turns to China, where a young couple suddenly faces persecution for doing the same. Holding a banner that reads “Falun Dafa is Good,” they stay true to their faith.
Ms. Palmer continued, “It was portraying how they still have such a passion for what they’re practicing and their beliefs, despite the fact that they are being persecuted in China, and still trying to practice their beliefs all over the world. It was a cool story for me.”
Mr. Thomas also enjoyed the story of the dragon Ne Zha Churns the Sea. An idyllic seaside village meets with near-disaster when the evil Dragon King terrorizes its residents.
Mr. Thomas said he laughed at the antics in the dance The Monkey King Thwarts the Evil Toad. The classic novel Journey to the West, tells of a Tang Dynasty monk and his disciples—the Monkey King, Sand Monk, and Pigsy—on a quest for Buddhist scriptures.
“Well, he’s kind of like me in a way—kind of mischievous. I always like to play jokes and tricks on people. It was delightful,” he said.
“It was a cute costume, too—the frog,” Ms. Thomas quipped.
Mr. Thomas said of all the Shen Yun personnel, “They were on top of their game. It was really fun to watch. That dancing around and remembering all of the choreography, that’s not easy.”
Classical Chinese dance is grounded in 5,000 years of divinely inspired culture, and is an art form built upon a deep foundation of traditional aesthetics. Classical Chinese dance is rich with expressive power.
“So much dedication,” Ms. Palmer said.
Ms. Thomas added, “They made it look so easy and effortless. Like floating.”
“It definitely was not easy.” Mr. Thomas said.
Reporting by Alex Ma and Raiatea Tahana-Reese
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.