COSTA MESA, Calif.—Jerick Rea, director of business development at Gartner, Inc., experienced the phenomenon that is Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, on March 15. All six performances at the theater were sold out.
“It was really powerful and moving,” said Mr. Rea. “I missed the show earlier this year in San Francisco in January, so I came down to watch it here in Costa Mesa with my dad, because I felt that it was worthwhile to watch.”
Dr. Alpha Smith II, doctor of theology, was also in the audience and thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
“Awesome,” said Mr. Smith. “Breathtaking itself to be able to witness that.”
Shen Yun was established in New York just eight short years ago in 2006 with the goal of reviving 5,000 years of true Chinese culture, a culture that was once considered divinely inspired, through the universal language of music and dance.
At the heart of a Shen Yun performance is classical Chinese dance. A full orchestra accompanies the dances, vocal and instrumental soloists often perform, and other elements from intricate costumes to an interactive digital backdrop add to a rich theatrical experience.
Mr. Smith was very impressed with the discipline and synchronization of the dancers.
“They were all outstanding, and everybody was working in harmony, which is important to be,” he said. “To synchronize yourself with someone else, it takes a lot of discipline and hard work to coordinate. No particular person was showing any form of self-centeredness or selfishness. It was a unity-type thing, so that’s very powerful.”
Mr. Rea was very moved by a soprano soloist and appreciated hearing the lyrics in Mandarin yet being able to read the translation in English in the background.
“The message was really powerful,” he said. “That is a lot more profound than what you’d typically have in opera. I think that allows people to connect with the material.”
A Deeper Message
Shen Yun’s website says, “Throughout history almost every culture looked toward the divine for inspiration. Art was meant to uplift, bringing joy to both the people who created and experienced it. It is this principle that drives Shen Yun performers and their art.”
Mr. Rea studied philosophy at University of California, Berkeley, and thought Shen Yun was broadly appealing and wonderful on many different levels, from the choreography and dancing to a deeper spiritual message of truth.
“The truth was really pronounced,” he said. “The message of truth, recognizing that there is more to life than worldly attachments and that material things aren’t the goal of life. That we came from heaven and we are going back to heaven, and so it’s our responsibility to strive to live heavenly lives while we are here.”
Mr. Smith could also feel the profound meaning behind Shen Yun’s performance.
“I feel that [the performance] was tremendous in spirit,” he said. “It was a translating from earth to heaven and heaven to earth.”
Persecuted by the Chinese Regime
Shen Yun was founded by practitioners of Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong. The practice, a meditation discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, has been heavily persecuted in China since 1999.
Despite being blocked from performing in China, “Shen Yun—a non-profit organization—has become an international phenomenon, bringing the wonders of ancient Chinese culture to millions across the globe,” says the company’s website.
Mr. Rea said due to negative publicity about Shen Yun by the Chinese regime, which has nearly extinguished traditional Chinese culture inside of China, many of the Chinese people he has talked to were reluctant to discuss or attend the performance, and often said negative things themselves.
“It’s not really their thoughts; it seems like it’s just straight government propaganda that they are spreading,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because the message is really simple and straightforward, and having studied philosophy and religion as much as I have, you know the truth resonates. If you experience something that is saying something truthful, then you are supposed to recognize that, so if people come and experience it for themselves they can see.”
Shen Yun’s website mentions the Chinese Communist Party has even harassed Shen Yun throughout its development and growth, but the performing arts company continues to thrive.
Mr. Rea said he felt China was one of the core civilizations of the world, but like ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, much has been lost as the civilization has fallen to a great extent. He thought it was important for Chinese people to see Shen Yun.
“I think what’s important is for people to realize that there is this broader message, that there is this purpose, and you really see it here,” he said. “That there is a purpose for the Chinese people to exist, and you see it throughout their history.”
Mr. Rea said he was going to recommend Shen Yun to everyone and definitely come again.
“It was my first time watching it. I plan on watching it again and recommending it as much as possible.” said Mr. Rea.
Reporting by NTD Television and Sarah 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