ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts returned to Florida on its 2012 World Tour with two performances at the Mahaffey Theater tonight.
The audience responded with a standing ovation to the nearly sold-out matinée performance.
David Yee, who identified himself as an American-born Chinese, used to live and work in New York as an acupuncturist and tai chi teacher. His wife, Diana, is a licensed massage therapist and tai chi teacher.
“Beautiful! Very powerful,” Mr. Yee said of the performance. “Very good message. Great performance—comes from the heart. It’s very good.”
The performance left him thinking, “We all have to feel … who we are and do the right things in life.”
Mr. Yee said he felt “very strongly” about the themes of the performance: “A lot of different emotions—you have sad moments because it did make me feel sad with some things, and yet very giant, very powerful, very good [emotions]. It’s a good heritage. The culture is beautiful.
“I feel bad about what the people [in China] are going through, but it’s a good message that they [Shen Yun] put out.” He said that “negative and positive, bad and good” exist all over the world.
Two story-based dances portray the struggle between good and evil through contemporary tales of courage in the face of oppression: Practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional self-cultivation discipline, face persecution by the Chinese communist regime. They respond according to the Falun Gong principles—truth, compassion, and tolerance.
“After more than 60 years of communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished,” according to the Shen Yun website. “However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.”
Speaking of the theme of good versus evil, Mr. Yee said, “We have to try harder. Deep inside, we have to look into our hearts and bring out the goodness to help one another, and as much as possible, try to be pure, which is hard. It’s an ongoing thing.
“If I have the chance, I’d like to see it again,” he said. “It’s very good. The performers did an excellent job. The musicians were great—high skill, very high skill.”
He appreciated the performance for including the culture of different parts of China. “China is a vast country with lots of different ethnic backgrounds, so it was good. With my martial arts background, I could see different styles from the different regions of China,” he said.
Mrs. Yee said, “I think the choreography of showing the secular world and how it suppresses the spirituality of heavenliness in humans is a very important thread that runs throughout. … The more people watch Shen Yun, they can get more in touch with the heavenly side of their humanity.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company, one of Shen Yun’s three companies that tour the world, performed at the Mahaffey. It was Shen Yun’s first performance in St. Petersburg since 2010.
Reporting by Victoria Wu and Louise Rothman.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.