SAN JOSE, Calif.—Theatergoers in San Jose experienced Shen Yun Performing Arts, a world-class performance of classical Chinese dance and music, at the Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 28. Tiffany Quintana, director of activities at a skilled nursing facility, was delighted to be there after looking forward to Shen Yun for about a year.
“I thought the colors and the dancing and the movement—everything was amazing,” she said.
In a Shen Yun performance, the audience is treated to a series of short dance pieces as well as some vocal and instrumental solos. Accompanying the dancers is a live orchestra with both Chinese and Western musical instruments.
Quintana had tried to see Shen Yun last year, but the tickets were sold out. This time, she got tickets in early November and enjoyed the performance with her daughter.
“It was more than I expected,” Quintana said. “Everyone I spoke to has been wanting to see it, or is going to see it this year. … It’s just been amazing.”
Many Shen Yun dance pieces tell legends from ancient China or modern-day tales of courage. Quintana was fascinated and touched by these stories.
“The stories are insightful,” she said. “So far there’s been some humor, there’s been sadness, there’s been some revelation as to things that are happening right now, including what’s going on in China to this day, that I think we should be aware of. There’s some beautiful folklore that I wasn’t aware of. So there are things that I’d want to go research a little more and I’m interested in.”
She recalled the dance piece “Goodness in the Face of Evil,” which tells a story about practitioners of Falun Dafa, a traditional Chinese meditation discipline based on truthfulness, benevolence, and tolerance. In modern China, Falun Dafa practitioners face oppression and persecution from the Chinese communist regime.
“That really struck me as painful and a reminder of the kind of vigilance we have, to be human beings and consider each other as human beings, no matter what our beliefs or where we’re coming from, and maybe to be a little bit more mindful of other people in the world,” Quintana said.
Shen Yun is based in New York and aims to revitalize China’s 5,000 years of ancient culture through dance and music. According to its website, traditional Chinese culture placed great importance on spirituality and respect for heaven. However, this divinely inspired culture has been nearly lost under today’s communist rule.
“I do believe that you can put someone, let’s say, in a prison, but their soul, their spirituality, their connection with their higher power, can really release someone. And so I think it’s important that those things can be reinforced so they cannot be taken away,” Quintana said.
Besides the stories and spirituality, she also enjoyed the sheer beauty and athleticism of the dancers.
“I think they’re fantastic,” she said. “I did gymnastics as a child; I know that is not easy. They have no mats and they’re … flipping around and [doing] aerials. … The dances are beautiful.”
The dancers perform in brightly-colored costumes in the styles of different Chinese regions and dynasties. They often carry props such as fans or even porcelain vases, which they use to complement the choreography.
“The colors, the way all the moving goes with the contrast in colors really makes everything pop,” said Quintana. “So it’s more than I expected already.”
She has already recommended to others that they see the performance in Sacramento.
“I’m looking forward to the second half. … It’s been exciting for me so far,” she said. “It was fantastic.”
With reporting by Lily Yu and Sally Appert.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.