Architects Wowed by Shen Yun’s Divine Wisdom and Digital Technology

January 19, 2015

NEW YORK—It was a pleasant evening for Liam Iwnes and James Smith, both architects from Australia, attending Shen Yun Performing Arts’ last performance of the 2015 season at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center before it continues on to Boston.

“It was unique,” Mr. Iwnes said. “A window into something that I had no idea about.”

Through the universal language of music and dance, New York-based Shen Yun seeks to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture.

Mr. Iwnes called Shen Yun “quite enlightening” and he was curious to learn more about the culture deeply rooted in the spiritual traditions of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

The Shen Yun website explains: “Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience. Originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, these ideals are the essence of traditional Chinese culture.”

Mr. Smith is a Shen Yun regular. He saw the performance years ago in Australia and has been coming ever since. He’s been so many times, he couldn’t even say how many times he has seen the performance.

Shen Yun creates new program every year, so it’s a new experience each time.

“I thought it was brilliant,” Mr. Smith said of the 2015 performance. “It broadens your mind, I feel, to the other realms.”

“It broadens your mind, I feel, to the other realms.”
— James Smith

“It shows you this window into this whole world,” Mr. Smith said. “Certainly beyond this world that we are in.” The digital backdrop brings the audience from Mongolian plains to the heavens to Buddhist monasteries where playful little monks have more fun than you might think.

Some of the dances are story-based, depicting historical accounts and legends. The backdrop is often animated, allowing the dancers to interact with it in surprising ways.

Accompanying the ethnic, folk, and classical Chinese dances is the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra, a “quite interesting blend” of East and West, Mr. Iwnes said. Shen Yun has managed to integrate traditional Chinese instruments with a Western orchestra, giving birth to its trademark sound.

Jonathan Brown, also an architect in attendance on the night of Jan. 18, praised Shen Yun’s use of large-scale projection as a backdrop.

“The integration of the graphics and the dancing was quite special.”
— Jonathan Brown

“The integration of the graphics and the dancing was quite special,” Mr. Brown said, noting the performance achieves “a real mix between the narrative, the dancing, and the history.”

“You really get drawn to the whole story,” he said, calling the performance “amazing” overall.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit

Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.


Follow Petr on Twitter: @petrsvab