KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Shen Yun Performing Arts, the world’s foremost classical Chinese performing arts company, brought its two-show run to a close at the historic Tennessee Theatre on Jan.8.
Kimberly McManis, a retail store manager in the fashion industry, and university graduand Cheyenne Flair, were seated amidst the audience enjoying the splendor of the New York-based company.
“I thought it was absolutely beautiful. The colors, the dance, it was just really great for me,” Ms. McManis said.
Sophisticated dance techniques, an orchestra joining instruments from both the East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop has delighted Knoxville audiences.
Ms. Flair said the performers did a great job. “You guys are beautiful, you’re so talented and I really enjoyed learning about the Chinese culture. It’s great.”
Speaking generally, Ms. Flair loved that Shen Yun performed with a large number of men and women.
“It’s a lot of dance that you go to see—you don’t see as many men [in most performances], or they’re carrying women around and whatnot, where they don’t really get to showcase their talent. [That’s not the case at Shen Yun.] I like that.”
Classical Chinese dance is composed of three main parts: bearing, form, and technical skill. Other than complete training in the fundamentals, it also entails systematic training in movements and postures, as well as very difficult jumping and tumbling techniques. And so, alongside ballet, classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world.
Ms. Flair said she was mesmerized by the gorgeous hand-made costumes that span dynasties and regions, from the Tang Dynasty to imperial dragon robes and “from the traditional rightward cross-collared Han clothing to the ethnic attire of the Manchurian, Tibetan, Dai, Mongol, and Uyghur ethnic groups”, says the Shen Yun website.
“Their clothes are beautiful. I loved the ribbons! They were so mesmerizing.”
Ms. McManis agreed. “Well, yes. Just the colors and everything. It just really showed the vibrancy of the culture … that really inspired me.
“I don’t know, I’ve always been inspired by the Chinese culture and that kind of solidified how I felt about it.”
Ms. Flair said she really enjoyed seeing Shen Yun portray the current persecution going on in China in a couple of vignettes.
“I really like how they shed light on that. It’s something that people need to be aware of and it’s really unfortunate how they’re not allowed to express themselves in a way that they would like, but I’m glad they got to do it in some facet … to educate other people [outside of China].”
China was once known as the Celestial Empire, according to Shen Yun’s website. This profound name describes a land where deities and mortals coexisted, and a belief that the divine transmitted a rich culture to the people of the earth.
For thousands of years, Buddhist, Taoist, and other disciplines were at the heart of society. Calligraphy, music, medicine, attire, and much more were said to have been passed down from the heavens.
Unfortunately, over its past 60 years of rule, the communist regime has treated traditional Chinese values, centered on the idea of harmony between heaven and earth, as a threat to its existence. And in its systematic campaigns like the Cultural Revolution, it has uprooted traditional beliefs and destroyed ancient treasures bringing traditional 5,000 years of civilization to the brink of extinction.
In 2006, a group of leading classical Chinese artists came together in New York with one wish: to revive the true, divinely inspired culture of China and share it with the world. Shen Yun has been continuously performing and creating new shows ever since.
Reporting by Mary Silver 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.