KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Andrew Hooten, an artist and ballroom dancer, knows a little something about dance. In fact, he describes dance, and Shen Yun in particular, as divine and expressive of emotions.
Mr. Hooten, a property inspector by trade, together with his friend Mary Allen attended the Friday evening performance, April 1, of Shen Yun at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre in Kansas City.
Shen Yun’s goal is to revive the authentic and original manifestation of traditional Chinese culture and art. According to Mr. Hooten, he sees that the present communist regime in China perpetuates censorship and blockage of cultural heritage.
“Blocked. Prevented. So, we don’t get to see it,” said Mr. Hooten, referring to the suppressed traditional culture of China. “You hear about it but I think it is interesting that [Shen Yun] would bring that to everybody’s attention. They are artfully done!”
In fact, Shen Yun can’t be seen in China today, according to the company’s website. The Communist Party which currently rules China, suppresses traditional elements of Chinese culture and belief by censoring and blocking these things from its populace.
Mr. Hooten, a ballroom dancer, knows from Chinese instructors who have felt the oppression of modern China and related that to him. Even though he has never been to China himself, he takes their accounts and relates them to some of the modern stories told in Shen Yun.
In fact, Mr. Hooten said that those dancers were in America because they couldn’t practice their art in China.
Mr. Hooten described the dancers of Shen Yun as divine. In fact, Shen Yun Performing Arts translates as “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” according to the website.
Moreover, Shen Yun describes itself as aiming to revitalize the traditional divine culture of China that persisted for 5,000 years and was nearly lost during the Communist Party’s reign of anti-tradition and censorship mention by Mr. Hooten earlier.
“Dance is an expression of your emotion,” said Mr. Hooten. “So it is another way to connect with what you feel inside and express on the outside. To me, that is nothing but divine.”
The two described Shen Yun as “emotional.” Dance and music are often referred to as universal languages because their expression can be interpreted the same way throughout a variety of cultures.
Shen Yun describes classical Chinese dance as “richly expressive,” such that the variety of emotions felt throughout the different pieces of Shen Yun could vary depending on the subject matter. The scenes telling stories of ancient China and and those presenting traditional folk dances could evoke feeling of serenity and happiness. Those which depict the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners in China today often make people feel sad.
“It was a very strong emotional feeling,” said Ms. Allen. “I feel joy, I feel sympathy, I feel overwhelmed with emotions as I watched it.”
Mr. Hooten is also actively involved with costume creation and sewing, something that is very diverse in Shen Yun, with its portrayal of many time periods across China’s 5,000 year history and unique ethnic settings. In regards to the costumes used by Shen Yun, he described them as “beautifully done” and “phenomenal!”
Reporting by Catherine Wen and Paul Darin
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.