TEMPE, Ariz.—Thomas L. Gegenheimer and his wife, Jan, attended the first performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company at the ASU Gammage Theater on March 7.
Mr. Gegenheimer is chief technology officer at TealTec, a computer consulting services company. During his 46-year experience in technology working at several major corporations, he was the vice president of information technology and operations at IHOP, and the worldwide director of information processing and networking services at The Walt Disney Company.
Mr. Gegenheimer thoroughly enjoyed the Shen Yun performance: “The quality of talent is just outstanding.”
New York-based Shen Yun is an independent, non-profit performing arts company. It was formed in 2006 with the mission of reviving 5,000 years of Chinese civilization through classical Chinese dance and music, and has quickly become an international phenomenon.
“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,” according to the Shen Yun website. “Classical Chinese dance has its own training in basic skills, physical expression and postures, leaps, flips, spins, and other difficult tumbling techniques, forming an extensive and independent dance system.”
Mr. Gegenheimer was struck by Shen Yun’s backdrops, which are an integral part of the performance, bringing the context of each dance to life. Dancers and mythical characters appear on screen one moment, and on stage the next. “The use of the screens and to have somebody come in the screens and appear on the stage, that is very well done,” he said. “When I … saw it the first time, I wasn’t expecting that. And a picture becomes a human!”
The Shen Yun website explains: “With state-of-the-art graphics technology, Shen Yun’s digital-backdrop team creates vividly animated settings, extending the stage and transporting the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one.”
Mrs. Gegenheimer, a retired high school English teacher, said she was impressed with the colors.
Each piece, whether classical Chinese or ethnic dance, includes different costumes. “Every costume in a Shen Yun performance is presented with brilliant colors, displaying a splendid spectacle,” the website further explains.
In addition to the costumes, another major feature of Shen Yun is its music, with all of the dance pieces set to original scores played by the Shen Yun Orchestra, which combines Chinese and Western instruments. Shen Yun music enchanted Mr. Gegenheimer. “It’s very good, very much so. Very pretty,” he said.
Traditional Chinese values are displayed in every story of each dance, from ancient to contemporary China. “Ideals of loyalty, filial piety, and veneration for the divine are cherished and celebrated. Heroes are extolled for their compassion and tolerance as much as their courage or determination when facing adversity,” explains the website.
Mrs. Gegenheimer was touched by the spiritual values shared in the performance. “I am impressed with the spirituality of the program. I did not know the program had that much value base,” she said. “And I just find it very uplifting to see a show with such outstanding values.
“I think everyone can relate to the values that the stories tell,” she said. “So that is probably my favorite part. It is a show you could take anyone and everyone to see.”
She said she particularly enjoyed the dance with a story about a mother and daughter making a flag with the three words “truthfulness, compassion, tolerance.” She was referring to the dance entitled The Steadfast Lotus that depicts the ongoing persecution of people who practice Falun Dafa, a spiritual meditation discipline that originated in China. The persecution was instigated by the Chinese communist regime in 1999 and continues to this day.
Mr. Gegenheimer said that he was very happy to come see Shen Yun, “It’s outstanding!”
Mrs. Gegenheimer added that she would like to see Shen Yun again, and absolutely recommend it to everyone.
Reporting by Jana Li and Thanh Le
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.