LOS ANGELES—Actor Will Sasso was captivated by the highly celebrated Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company’s performance at the Nokia Theater LA LIVE on March 22.
“It was amazing. I thought it was just amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.
Actor Will Sasso is most notable as a cast member on MADtv, and for starring as Curly in the 2012 film reboot of The Three Stooges. He starred in a new animated series on FOX entitled Murder Police, which premiered in July 2013.
Mr. Sasso was impressed with the entire production, “It was really well put together. It came together in a story, which I wasn’t expecting. And yeah, I thought it was really something else. I thought it was really, really great,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
According to the Shen Yun website, “For 5,000 years divine culture flourished in the land of China. Humanity’s treasure was nearly lost, but through breathtaking music and dance, Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture.”
Independent and nonprofit, New York-based Shen Yun was established in 2006 by artists from around the world with the mission of reviving China’s divinely inspired traditional culture, which had nearly been completely destroyed by the current regime in China over the last several decades.
For eight years, Shen Yun has quickly become an international sensation, with four companies simultaneously touring around the world this year.
Shen Yun’s soloist singers, who sing in the challenging bel canto style while retaining Chinese diction, impressed Mr. Sasso. He said that both singers were “incredible.”
Mr. Sasso was even more impressed by the classical Chinese dance, “The dancing was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what they were able to get their bodies to do. It’s just incredible, and at the same time so synchronized.”
“Chinese dance is at the heart of what Shen Yun does. Known for its incredible flips and spins, and its gentle elegance, it is one of the most rigorous and expressive art forms in the world,” explains the website. “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.”
The performance consists of a variety of vignettes that transport audiences to the scenes of ancient myths and legends, modern stories of courage, and traditional ethnic villages—each in their own way embodying the values of traditional Chinese culture.
According to the website, “Inspired, Shen Yun’s artistic team is bringing these stories to stages around the world, depicting them through song and dance dramas. It turns out this courage and message of hope has moved Shen Yun’s performers and audience members alike.”
He was also touched by the spiritual side of Shen Yun.
“I thought the host did a really good job talking about Falun Dafa, and sort of what the meaning of Shen Yun was. And I think it kind of set up each piece really nicely,” he said.
“For me, spiritually it was interesting, each piece had its own sort of message spiritually. And even though there is obviously a cultural barrier and a language barrier I was really impressed with how much [the dance performances] are able to get across, especially spiritually what I can take from it,” said Mr. Sasso.
“Throughout history almost every culture looked toward the divine for inspiration,” per the website. The entire Shen Yun team follows this noble tradition. “This spiritual connection is motivation for striving to excel, is the heart behind each movement of the dancer and each note of the musician. It is why audiences can feel there is something different about Shen Yun. Their source of inspiration, rooted in traditional Chinese culture, is the spiritual discipline known as Falun Dafa.”
Mr. Sasso marveled at the performance of The Steadfast Lotus,, which depicts the ongoing persecution of people who practice Falun Dafa, a spiritual meditation discipline based on truth, compassion, and tolerance. The persecution was instigated by the Chinese communist regime in 1999 and continues to this day.
“Oh, I thought it was just unbelievable,” he said. “I have never seen anything quite like that.”
Mr. Sasso said he would “absolutely” recommend seeing Shen Yun, regardless of cultural or language barriers. “I think anybody can enjoy it for sure,” he said.
Reporting by Jana Li and Thanh Le