DETROIT—The city was cold on Friday night. Snow covered the ground and people bundled up to keep warm. Inside the Detroit Opera House, much warmth and enthusiasm came from the theatergoers as the stage was lit up not only with beautiful artistry, but also with a divinely inspired culture that was almost lost to the world.
That night, Shen Yun Performing Arts, the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company, played the second of five performances at the Opera House as part of its 2014 international tour.
In the audience was Courtney Green, a ballet dancer with the University of Michigan’s Salto Dance Company. Ms. Green, a member of the company’s board, has been dancing since she was 3 years old. In an interview following the performance, she expressed her appreciation for Shen Yun’s artistry.
“I loved it,” she said. “This is my first time seeing classical Chinese dance and I was blown away by some of the skill level and the technique that you see on stage.”
“The choreography was brilliant, just outstanding,” she added.
One of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world, classical Chinese dance is an art form that has been continuously refined throughout Chinese history. It involves systematic training in both physical expression and physical postures, as explained in the program book description.
Ms. Green was impressed by the synchronicity of the dancers.
“You can clearly see the precision and the timing from each dancer, and the formations are very difficult and very complex. And so just the fact that they can stay in those lines with the smooth movements, the gracefulness as they walk across the stage, is unbelievable,” she said.
“As a dancer that is something you are constantly trying to achieve, showing that effortlessness in your movements.“
Ms. Green also praised the coordination between the music and the dancers, noting the “lightness and grace” in the pieces performed by the female dancers, and the “strength and masculinity” of the pieces complementing the qualities of the male dancers.
Each Shen Yun performance includes around 20 presentations. Many of these are story-based dances, which dramatically portray stories and heroes from China’s past and present.
Other than the choreography, Ms. Green said the stories depicted in the performance also made a deep impression on her. Two of the dances reflected the human rights situation in China today, where millions of people are persecuted for their faith.
Shen Yun brings to the stage the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, a peaceful meditation practice for improving the mind and body that is rooted in ancient Chinese culture.
“The stories that it was telling were very important to tell,” Ms. Green said of the story-based dances.
Ms. Green said it is valuable for Americans to understand that many of the values they take for granted, such as freedom of belief, are something that one can be persecuted for in China.
“As a ballet dancer this is a very informative [performance] for myself technically wise, but also culturally wise as well, being able to learn about some of the struggles that Chinese people have to deal with every day,” she said.
Ms. Green said she would definitely recommend the production to her friends.
“There is a lot to learn from the classical Chinese dance, and really unbelievable movements and formation and grace that comes with every performance and every movement that you see these dancers perform,” she said.
“You can clearly tell that these dancers have very much dedicated their lives to this.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Madalina Hubert
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.