BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—Dr. Alex Merrill, specializing in pediatrics, public health, and preventive medicine, said he had just witnessed “beauty, art, and grace” after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts on Wednesday at the Rabobank Theater.
“I would think of it as a cross-cultural experience,” said Dr. Merrill of the performance on April 27. “I would like to have the time to study a lot of things about China … I’ve always been fascinated.”
The doctor is one of 25 people running for mayor of Bakersfield and hopes to win the primary mayoral election on June 7. However, if no one wins the majority, the top two candidates will face off in November. If Dr. Merrill wins, he would like to build a children’s hospital.
But regardless of whether Dr. Merrill wins or loses, as a potential representative of the city, he wanted to welcome Shen Yun’s performers as “neighbors and friends” and thank them for coming to Bakersfield.
Shen Yun is the world’s premiere classical Chinese dance and music company, reviving 5,000 years of China’s true, divinely-inspired culture in one night.
The performance focuses on the art form known as classical Chinese dance, which was developed and perfected over thousands of years and which inherited China’s traditional aesthetic principles and inner characteristics.
“Through expression of bearing and form, beautiful dance movements bring out the inner meaning of intrinsic thoughts and feelings, reflecting the peculiarities of human nature, the standard for human conduct, moral concepts, mental state, one’s value system, and so on,” according to the official Shen Yun website.
Like ballet, classical Chinese dance is one of the most complete and comprehensive dance systems in the world.
“The dancers, they’re so beautiful,” said Dr. Merrill. “It’s amazing how consistent and flowing everything seems to be.”
Dr. Merrill enjoyed Shen Yun’s artists’ colorful costumes, unique to every dance vignette, as well as the accompanying live orchestra, which features Chinese musical traditions within a classic Western symphony orchestra.
Shen Yun’s orchestra seamlessly blends these two systems to create a fresh, harmonious sound. The Western instruments play the foundation of each music piece, while the Chinese instruments take the lead the during the melodies.
“It is very uplifting, and it’s happy music,” said Dr. Merrill.
Along with individual dance pieces that tell a story or celebrate China’s rich diversity, a Shen Yun performance also includes instrumental and vocal soloists. The performances range from the two-stringed Chinese violin called the erhu to passionate tenors, sopranos, and baritones, singing words of hope and faith to inspire the audience.
“The soloists were amazing. … I think that the notes and the music are very powerful,” said Dr. Merrill, who appreciated that the lyrics were translated from Chinese into English on the backdrop behind the singers.
Although Shen Yun cannot be seen in China today because traditional culture has been nearly lost, the non-profit company, based in New York, has the freedom to travel across the globe and share these traditions with millions of viewers.
Dr. Merrill said he believes he benefits from listening to and sharing other people’s thoughts and understandings, which was part of his Shen Yun experience. He said he will still have memories of this experience after he returns back to his “regular world.”
“I’d like to encourage other people to come,” he said. “I think it’s something that people ought to see, because they’ll never see anything like this otherwise.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Sarah Le
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.