SAN FRANCISCO—Justin Arbuthnot, senior account manager for a property development company, said he felt “extraordinary” while watching Shen Yun Performing Arts at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, Jan. 10, with his good friend, Edward Shapiro.
“I’m enjoying it very much so. The colors are amazingly beautiful,” he said.
Mr. Shapiro, former CEO of Shapiro Enterprises and currently the executive vice president of Michael E. Parker Enterprises, was also impressed.
“I am absolutely in love with the beauty and art of it,” he said, noting that he was recently in Oakland speaking with students about arts and education and that students told him art and music are what motivate them to attend school.
Shen Yun is a New York-based music and dance company that travels to 100 cities across five continents on its mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.
According to the company’s website, “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.”
This was Mr. Arbuthnot’s first time attending Shen Yun. He said he first saw a poster about it, then he saw a promotional booth.
Both he and Mr. Shapiro especially enjoyed the digital, animated backdrops that set the stage for each vignette.
“I absolutely love [the] animation and the beautiful scenery, and I loved the dragon vignette,” said Mr. Shapiro. “I thought it was wonderful. It was really, really great.”
He was referring to the piece called “Ne Zha Churns the Sea,” in which the mythical demi-god Ne Zha defeats the evil Dragon King.
According to Shen Yun’s website, the backdrops are “magical windows to completely different realms. From vast open grasslands in one dance to the stately elegance of Tang Dynasty pavilions in another … the digital projection infinitely expands and transforms the stage.”
An additional creative aspect of the backdrop is how the digital animation and dancers on stage interact, where the animated characters descend from the screen and disappear precisely as the dancers on the stage reappear.
“I like the way they brought from live to animation and back; it was great,” said Mr. Shapiro.
‘I actually starting crying’
One vignette that touched Mr. Arbuthnot in particular was The Steadfast Lotus, which portrays the modern day persecution in China of the spiritual practice Falun Dafa.
“That really touched me. I actually started crying [during] that one,” he said.
“I really like how they’re bringing what’s actually happening now in China to the stage, but doing it in a way that gets the message across but also leaves you with some hope,” he said. “I think it’s very relevant and very timely.”
Mr. Arbuthnot added, “It seems to be very common to people who stand for peace or just for the betterment of humanity or for themselves—there’s always a force opposite of that—and I think it’s an ongoing struggle.”
Mr. Shapiro summed up the performance by saying, “It was all beauty. It was beauty in all the players, and it was beauty in the colors that they were bringing to the stage, and it was beauty in the animation of the colors. So, it was very warm and inspiring.”
Reporting by Qian Zhang and Albert Roman
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.