NEW YORK—New York City philanthropist and award-winning show dog breeder Valerie Diker said she absolutely loved Shen Yun Performing Arts after seeing the performance on Jan. 16.
Shen Yun features “the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops,” according to the New York-based company’s website.
“I was—just as the children say—blown away by the discipline of of the company,” said Mrs. Diker, at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.
By children, Ms. Diker referred to the disadvantaged students at the Jacques d’Amboise National Dance Institute, where she is a Director Emeritae and plays a very active role. The institute was founded in 1976 in the belief that “the arts have a unique power to engage children and motivate them toward excellence,” according to its website.
Mrs. Diker is a former chairman of the Twyla Tharp Dance Foundation, Trustee for the American Ballet Theatre, chairman in charge of major gifts for the Harvard College Parents Fund, and a founding member of the National Board of the Santa Fe Opera. She also used to dance with the Alwin Nikolais Dance Company.
Of the Shen Yun dancers’ skill she said: “I can really appreciate the special steps they have, those steps where it’s as though they are on ice, it’s as though they’re gliding on ice, and never go up and down but only just on the same level. The flexibility, especially of the men, is quite striking.”
Shen Yun aims to revive 5,000 years of Chinese culture through Chinese classical dance. The dance was once passed down among the people, in imperial courts, and through ancient plays, and refined over thousands of years, according to the company.
Mrs. Diker said the opportunity to “see the old in its pure form is very inspiring.”
Classical Chinese dance is very expressive for storytelling, and Mrs. Diker said she was “very strongly” drawn into a performance called Buddha’s Compassion Shines Forth.
“I was just holding my breath,” she said. The story is set in modern day China where a young couple are persecuted for meditating and holding a banner that proclaims “Falun Dafa is Good.” Falun Dafa is a spiritual discipline that has been persecuted in China for more than 14 years. In this story, all hope seems lost and disaster strikes. Suddenly a Buddha appears and peace and goodness prevail.
“I was very touched by that,” Ms. Diker said.
Shen Yun is unable to perform in China due to the Communist Party’s “systematic attempts to wipe out the heritage of 5,000 years of civilization,” the company website states. “The mere representation of this lost heritage and its virtues immediately, by way of contrast, unmasks the Party and its ideology of struggle.”
Ms. Diker said she hopes social media can help enable Chinese people living in China see “this extraordinary company.”
‘I feel it’s most important—the Chinese people, I hope, some day, will have more of a chance to see this traditional dance. You know you have to dream first, and then make your dreams come true.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Ananda West
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.