HOUSTON—”For me, it is about the sense of the divine, of something much bigger than you, present with you, in life and also in art,” said Jenny Hart after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts for the first time at Houston’s Jones Hall for the Performing Arts on Dec. 26.
The Chinese traditionally believe that Chinese culture is divinely bestowed, handed down by the gods. But a large part of this divine heritage has been lost in recent decades. Therefore, Shen Yun, a New-York based performing arts company, was established with the mission of reviving those 5,000 years of forgotten culture and history through the universal language of music and dance, as their website states.
Ms. Hart felt the artistry of Shen Yun transported her to a realm of piety and profound spirituality. “It takes me out of myself in my seat. I feel something that is beyond just sitting there in the audience. I just feel in touch with the divine.”
As a devoted painter, Ms. Hart related with Shen Yun on a spiritual level. She felt that artists “have a purpose which is beyond—to actually express something which is beyond just ordinary, everyday things in our lives.”
The essence of true art, she said, is “when you just become an instrument to the message.”
“Then it is not about you. You can just flow and the message will come through. You’re just the hand that moves, or the body that moves, or the throat that sings. But it is not about you. It is about the total message.”
The message of Shen Yun was a connection to the divine, she said, something she also strives to achieve in her own artwork. The inspiration for her paintings comes from the images she sees when she prays, she explained. “I started to see pictures in color and very vivid pictures … they were almost like stories. They were about my life, but also in a very universal way.”
“It is about the connection between the divine, the God, and persons and your part.”
Within Shen Yun, it was the seamless combination of various elements of the performance—from the exquisite dancing to the live orchestra combining Eastern and Western instruments, to the brilliant costumes and the animated backdrop—that made the performance extraordinary. “I can also feel that sense of connection to heaven,” she said, “because of the whole blend—the songs of the orchestra, the way the dancers moved, the colors of the costumes. It is hard to pin down one particular thing. But it is a beautiful symphony of different things that come together.”
She was uplifted and inspired by not just the beautiful movement in the performance, but the emotions the dancers conveyed.
For example, in “Fairies of the Sea,” Ms. Hart had a profound aesthetic experience.
In the dance, fairy maidens in blue held long silk fans resembling rippling waves. “It was a spiritual thing, so beautiful—it was light, and movement, and it was …” she said, pausing as she tried to articulate her appreciation of the performance. “I felt moved—by the beauty of it,” she said. “[It] had an ethereal quality to it.”
“The use of color and movement—it is spiritually uplifting. Especially the very beautiful movements, I find it touched my soul,” she said.
In another scene, the tenderness of characters brought her to tears.
“The Steadfast Heart” portrayed a light-hearted couple who practiced Falun Dafa and suffered under the Chinese Communist Party’s cruel persecution of this ancient spiritual practice. “I find that it was just so tender between the two, and it was such a beautiful scene of love overcoming all sorts of evil things in life.” The performance demonstrated a principle she holds within her heart that “Evil never wins … it just seems to, sometimes.”
Ms. Hart saw within Shen Yun an art transcending all cultural boundaries—a beauty and spirituality that can speak to anyone. “Genuine art goes beyond language. And it speaks to hearts of people all around the world, without the language of spoken words,” she said. “It was beautifully done, yes, very, very beautiful.”
Reporting by Sherry Dong and Irene Luo
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.