PHOENIX, Ariz.—For Kane Adkins and his sister, Jasmine Roper, watching Shen Yun Performing Arts World Company was delightful entertainment and much more.
The two appeared to be deeply moved after watching the classical Chinese dance and music company Feb. 15 at the Orpheum Theatre.
“The message ultimately is one about freedom and the human spirit being free to express itself,” Mr. Adkins said. “I really loved the beauty—the aesthetic value. The dance and the choreography and the colors were so exquisite—perfectly chosen for each dance and perfectly chosen from each culture to represent a really diverse [presentation]—it was absolutely breathtaking.”
Mrs. Roper also had high praise for the performance. “I love the way that all the dancers moved. I loved the uplifting message. The costumes were gorgeous—just beautiful. And I’ve never been to see anything like this, so it was just absolutely fantastic,” she said.
The word “purity” came to Mr. Adkin’s mind multiple times while watching the dancers. He said that oftentimes in dance, sensuality is emphasized, but Shen Yun is different.
“This maintains the artistic beauty and aesthetic value without creating a sense of sensuality that [can be] somewhat degrading,” he said.
Shen Yun is a New York-based non-profit with four companies currently touring the world simultaneously.
Its website explains: “Over its past 60 years of rule, the communist regime has treated traditional Chinese values centered on the idea of harmony between heaven and earth as a threat to its existence.” Shen Yun seeks to revive these ancient principles—the essence of Chinese culture—which have been nearly lost.
A Shen Yun performance includes approximately 20 vignettes that open a window into China’s glorious history where myths, legends, and modern stories of courage come to life, and ancient virtues such as courage, compassion, and perseverance are personified.
Mr. Adkins particularly enjoyed the themes of freedom and perseverance throughout the performance.
“I really embraced the thrust of the ability of the human spirit to endure amidst adversity in order to be able to overcome—and not just be able to overcome, but to be able to celebrate with the consideration of an afterlife. I felt like that in particular was a message that resonated with myself,” he said.
China’s culture is deeply steeped in spirituality. With Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism forming its foundation, Chinese civilization is replete with values such as respect for the divine, propriety, wisdom, divine retribution, and benevolence.
Two pieces that struck a chord with Mr. Adkins are entitled The Power of Compassion, and The Divine Renaissance Begins, stories depicting the modern day persecution of the meditation discipline Falun Dafa in China, in which police officers, in the midst of terrorizing people, change their violent ways.
“When they saw the power of freedom, when they saw the power of speech, when they saw even freedom of religion,” Mr. Adkins said, “they were able to recognize the value that is found in these things. I felt like that was outstanding.”
After a thoughtful pause, and with tears in her eyes, Ms. Roper added, “It made me think about the oppression that people endure in this world, and it made me hope and pray for the human spirit and for us to be able overcome the atrocities in this world.”
She said the performance conveys the preciousness of freedom.
While the majority of the pieces that compose Shen Yun are classical Chinese dance, it also includes ethnic and folk dances as well as vocal soloists who sing using the bel canto technique.
Song lyrics are displayed in both Chinese and English and are “brimming with philosophical reflection,” according to the company’s website.
“The songs specifically articulated a message concerning messengers of hope and peace in a world that doesn’t understand it, and specifically even, dare I say, redemption for individuals who may find that philosophy divisive. I felt like they did a great job of presenting that. It was well done—well articulated,” he said.
Mr. Adkins said he wanted to take his wife to the performance next year, and that he would recommend it to family and friends. “Unquestionably,” he said.
Reporting by Albert Roman
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.