SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Screenwriter, film producer, and director Caroline Thompson and her husband Steve Nicolaides, also a film producer, had a lovely afternoon at Shen Yun Performing Arts at The Granada Theatre on Sunday, March 30.
“It’s a wonderful show,” said Mrs. Thompson. “The storytelling is very enchanting.”
“Fantastic production,” said Mr. Nicolaides. “We’ve been watching dance for a long, long time. The choreography in this is spectacular.”
Caroline Thompson is known for writing the screenplays of notable films such as Edward Scissorhands, The Secret Garden, and Black Beauty, among others. She also directed Black Beauty, and in 2011 she won the Distinguished Screenwriter Award from the Austin Film Festival. Steve Nicolaides has produced many popular films, including School of Rock, A Few Good Men, and When Harry Met Sally. The couple founded and run the website Small & Creepy Films at www.smallandcreepy.com.
Shen Yun was founded in 2006 in New York with the goal of reviving ancient Chinese traditions and celebrating true, divinely inspired Chinese culture through music and dance, according to the non-profit organization’s website.
The website states, “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 … bringing traditional 5,000 years of civilization to the brink of extinction.”
Independent of the Chinese regime, Shen Yun now enjoys the artistic freedom of the United States, which enables the company to bring these ancient traditions to the stage.
Mr. Nicolaides and Mrs. Thompson both loved the Shen Yun dance pieces that incorporated long, flowing sleeves into the artists’ costumes.
“I just kept loving when the sleeves shot out and came back,” said Mrs. Thompson. “It was so elegant and beautiful.”
Mrs. Thompson especially liked Shen Yun’s animated digital backdrop that complemented the dance storylines. The dancers occasionally appear to magically leap into or directly out of this colorful background screen, fly into the air, visit the moon or battle mystical beings.
“I love the rear screen, where they jump into the rear screen. That’s my favorite part actually,” she said. “I love the expression of the soaring soul with the people flying. The mythology is very, very beautiful.”
Mr. Nicolaides thought the performance portrayed a wonderful expression of natural beauty, starting from the backdrops and moving to the dances.
“I think what we see on the screen is a beautiful nature sort of giving rise to a beautiful spirit, and the expression of the spirit is through the dance,” he said. “And I’m sorry that in China and in so many parts of the earth today, we’ve really not paid attention to the beauty of nature.”
Mrs. Thompson was also sorry to learn that the Chinese regime banned the meditation practice Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, over a decade ago. The persecution of practitioners of Falun Dafa and their peaceful response is portrayed in two dances during the performance.
“I’m sorry that they don’t allow meditation anymore,” she said. “Meditation is very important.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts was established by Falun Dafa practitioners and is not allowed to perform in China. The company has even been harassed by people and organizations with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Despite these difficulties, “Shen Yun now tours the world, performing in over 100 cities every year; most shows are sold-out. … Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired,” says the website.
Reporting by Flora Ge 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