ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Philip Matzigkeit, an art instructor at San Diego State University, has seen advertisements for Shen Yun Performing Arts for many years. On Feb. 16, he finally attended the performance at California Center for the Arts.
“It was very inspiring,” he said. “The people are so agile, and so well-trained, so much discipline. I know how much work has gone into it.”
As an artist himself, Matzigkeit focuses on architectural collaborations, and has received multiple grants and commissions. He was documented by the National Endowment for the Arts and World Book Encyclopedia as early as 1976.
Matzigkeit has also apprenticed with internationally known artist/architect, James Hubbell and won competitive commissions for the Carmel Valley Library. He is now working on a commissioned mural for the 94 Freeway as a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Shen Yun Performing Arts seeks to revive authentic Chinese culture through classical Chinese dance, a full orchestra with both Eastern and Western sounds, flowing costumes, vibrant digital backdrops, musical soloists, and two bilingual emcees who introduce the audience to a little Chinese history.
The New York-based company was founded in 2006 and now has a total of six companies touring around the world with a completely new production every year, according to the company website.
A Soothing Spiritual Experience
Matzigkeit said he found Shen Yun’s live music to be soothing, especially since he and his family have been sick recently. He also enjoyed the songs of the vocal soloists, whose lyrics were translated into English on the backdrop behind the singers.
As a yoga practitioner, he was even able to sense the dedication within the Shen Yun performers to their own spiritual practice just by watching the performance.
“It comes out through movements,” he said. “It wasn’t the spoken word. It was action, and just that full expression of the physical joy, and agility, and excitement.”
Shen Yun artists follow the ancient Chinese tradition of spiritual cultivation in their practice of Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, which inspires them to aim for a high standard in both their career and everyday life.
Unfortunately, Falun Dafa has been violently persecuted in China since 1999.
“Some of the allegations are truly shocking and terrible,” said Matzigkeit. “I’ve read that many people have really suffered for what seems to be just a healthy practice and really beautiful philosophy of life.”
China itself was once known as the “Celestial Empire,” with the belief that the divine transmitted the 5,000 years of rich and abundant culture directly to the Chinese people.
According to the Shen Yun website, “Throughout Chinese history, the fields of medicine, astronomy, dance, music, painting, military tactics, literature, poetry, the culinary arts, construction, and other cultural displays have been guided at their highest levels by Buddhist or Taoist cultivation or by Confucian philosophy.”
While China has undergone such dramatic changes in recent decades, Matzigkeit said he appreciates that Shen Yun is now able to perform around the world.
“I think it’s wonderful that this group has found a way to reach such a large audience and share their energy and their joy,” he said. “That classic discipline, it’s so impressive.”
To summarize his experience of the Shen Yun performance, Matzigkeit said it was “healing.”
“There’s this divine spark in all of us, and it’s our opportunity in life to find that spark and to radiate that spark,” he added.
With reporting by NTD Television and Sarah Le.
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.