NORFOLK, Va.—“I didn’t really know what to expect but just got entranced by the whole thing,” said David Galbraith, a program manager at global aerospace and defense firm General Dynamics, after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at Norfolk, Virginia’s Chrysler Hall on March 26.
Mr. Galbraith’s reaction is in fact a common one among Shen Yun audience members. The reason is Shen Yun performances are unlike any other the arts world has to offer.
First, Shen Yun’s very mission is to revive a culture that was nearly lost to the world—China’s ancient culture that survived over 5,000 years, until the last 60 years, under communist rule.
Second, part of that culture is classical Chinese dance, which most people in the West have never seen before, and nobody in the world has seen at this caliber.
Classical Chinese dance is a vast and comprehensive system with very specific physical expressions and postures. It also has leaps, flips, spins, and other aerial and tumbling techniques which modern gymnastics owes its origins to.
Third, the music of Shen Yun is entirely original, and is played by an orchestra that uniquely combines traditional Western instruments, with ancient Chinese ones, producing an entirely new sound.
Add to all of that a fourth indescribable element—a full-stage animated backdrop that literally interacts with the dancers on stage.
“The timing—to be able to transform what’s going on onstage and to go [into] the screen—that added a lot to the show,” Mr. Galbraith said.
Finally, each Shen Yun costume is an original design that’s handmade using the finest silk, with every detail being given meticulous attention. They can portray everything from imperial dragon robes to Mongolian ethnic dress.
“If you don’t see it, you’re missing out. You have to see it at least see once in your life, just to experience it,” Mr. Galbraith said.
He added that the performance had no flaws.
A Cultural Experience
Eric Rodriguez, an electrician on naval ships, and Tracy Picou, who works for Delta Airlines, attended the same performance.
“I love culture, so I wanted to know more about it,” said Mr. Rodriguez, explaining what attracted him to see Shen Yun.
He certainly got an evening full of culture.
As the company’s website describes it: “Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture.”
“It makes me want to witness that time period myself—seeing it come to life, and hearing the stories,” he said.
“We learned about what happened in the past. The ways of the past. Some things that are still happening today in China.”
One of the mini-dramatic dances called “The Steadfast Heart” takes place in contemporary communist China, where people who practice the ancient spiritual discipline Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, are severely persecuted. In the scene, police arrive and pounce on the peaceful meditators, beating them and then arresting them. While the story ultimately has an inspiring ending due to the enduring faith of the meditators, it is unfortunately an accurate depiction of what’s still happening in China today.
The faith displayed in that piece, is one strand of the thread of spirituality that is woven throughout the performance.
Mr. Rodriguez said this resonated with his own beliefs.
“When they say to let go of the chains and the weights of today and feel the spirit, I definitely felt that—the spirit of God, a higher power,” he said.
Ms. Picou also enjoyed the show, describing it precisely and succinctly.
“Everything is simply enchanting. It’s beautiful,” she said.
Reporting by Lisa Fan, Jenny Jing, and Cindy Drukier
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.
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.