SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Frank Stevens, retired teacher and counselor, and his wife Kay Stevens, also a retired teacher and tax accountant, were very impressed with Shen Yun Performing Arts at The Granada Theatre on Sunday afternoon, March 30.
“It’s simply breathtaking and emotional,” said Mr. Stevens.
“Colorful, polished, beautiful,” said Mrs. Stevens.
Frank Stevens is currently co-president of the California Retired Teachers Association, Santa Barbara Division. He is past president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, and the University of California Santa Barbara Alumni Association.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is a non-profit organization that started in 2006 in New York and is dedicated to reviving 5,000 years of genuine divinely inspired Chinese culture through the universal language of music and dance, according to the website.
Mrs. Stevens said she enjoyed the performance very much and the artists were very skilled. Both she and her husband loved the interaction between Shen Yun’s dancers and the animated digital backdrop, which allowed the performers to appear to leap directly into the background and fly away into the air, or glide back down and pop onto the stage.
“Perfect,” said Mrs. Stevens of the synchronization between the dancers and the backdrop. “It was just flawless.”
“I think it’s the first time that I’ve seen something of that magnitude combined and brought together in a performance, just sort of integrated in a way that seemed natural,” said Mr. Stevens. “Very creative.”
As a former teacher, Mr. Stevens appreciated experiencing such a grand expression of artistic creativity from Chinese culture. He lamented the fact that some schools do not value the arts very much nowadays.
“I was very pleased to see this creativity in the arts, which is so important,” he said.
Mrs. Stevens said Shen Yun’s performance gave her very warm feelings and Mr. Stevens said some parts, such as a dance piece about happy farmers beside the Yellow River, were very touching and emotional for him. The couple has visited China before, and Mr. Stevens said they witnessed part of the traditional culture being destroyed.
“Having been to China, we’ve experienced some of the history and it was very emotional, some of it being brought on stage this way,” he said. “I particularly enjoyed the Yellow River part, with [those] very happy farmers, because we were on the Yangtze [River] just before they flooded [it], with all the farmers who were going to be displaced. I thought it was touching, that segment of it. … We were so discouraged when we saw all of the things that were going to be flooded in the Yangtze, all that lost history and artifacts that were never going to be seen again.”
Mr. and Mrs. Stevens said it was important that everyone, especially young Chinese people, learn about true Chinese culture, the destruction of thousands of years of tradition, and the current persecution of traditional spiritual practices, such as Falun Gong, which is depicted in a couple of Shen Yun dances.
“I think people need to see that, to hear it,” said Mrs. Stevens. “I realize now that’s a part of the purpose of this performance, which is very interesting to me, because it’s not just all fun and games. It’s serious.”
“I think the young people, if they really want to know about the history, then this gives them the opportunity hopefully to learn what their history is all about,” said Mr. Stevens.
Mr. Stevens also said that even if people have been to China as tourists, they may not have been exposed to the kind of human rights violations that are known to occur in China.
“Traveling in China also you don’t see that as tourists. That’s in the background somewhere that’s not exposed, so you’re not really aware of it in that way,” he said.
Mr. Stevens said it was good to raise awareness of such repression “anywhere at anytime.”
When asked if she would recommend the show to others, Mrs. Stevens said, “Absolutely.”
Reporting by Albert Roman 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