SAN ANTONIO, Texas—Chief Financial Officer Stan Burhans found Shen Yun Performing Arts to be fantastic after watching the performance for the first time.
Burhans and Jodi Kennedy, a chief results officer, attended the performance at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas, on Dec. 29.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is the premier Chinese dance company, which seeks to restore traditional Chinese culture, on stage through the music and dance. Founded in 2006, the New York-based company tours the world yearly with a brand new performance, tapping into an endless supply of material from 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.
Burhans, CFO at pharmacopeia USP, praised the dancers and musical soloists, including the erhu (a two-stringed Chinese instrument) soloist. He was also particularly impressed with interaction between the performers and the 3-D animated backdrop, which added another dimension to the stories depicted on stage.
“It was really fantastic. Enjoyed it very much. The whole storyline was fantastic,” Burhans said.
Kennedy felt a “healing energy” come through from the performance, which contained stories and dances that were both meditative and energetic in quality.
“It’s very refreshing and kind of energizing,” she said.
Classical Chinese Dance
Shen Yun dancers, many of whom are award-winning, are classically trained artists who perform ethnic and folk dance styles, as well as classical Chinese dance. Classical Chinese dance is an art form with a history of thousands of years. Alongside ballet, it is one of the most complex dance systems in the world.
Dancers convey energy not only through the physical movements, tumbling techniques, and intricate expressions of classical Chinese dance, but also through their inner bearing or “yun.” It is the cultivation of a dancer’s inner bearing that allows him or her to transmit the feelings and values that lie at the heart of the their inner world. This quality is unique to classical Chinese dance and can give audience members a feeling unlike that of watching any other art form.
Kennedy attested to that experience. She felt the “inner presence coming through the dancers.”
“That would be the divine being coming through,” she said. “I absolutely felt that.”
Shen Yun means the “beauty of divine beings dancing.” The imagery harks back to a belief in the divine that underpinned traditional Chinese culture. The 5,000-year culture is ingrained with a deep spiritualism influenced by the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. People believed in virtues and values that stem from ideas like the harmony between Heaven and Earth, the balance between man and nature, and divine retribution. Such values were embedded into every facet of society, including the arts and dance.
Shen Yun thus uses classical Chinese dance to restore these divinely-inspired universal values on stage—like truth, kindness, unity, and peace.
Energy and Connection
Kennedy indeed felt a “divine energy” and “divine peace” emanating from the performance.
She also felt the energy from the soprano’s solo.
Shen Yun’s vocal soloists sing in bel canto style, a singing technique that was on the brink of extinction before it was revived by the company. Soloists perform original pieces composed for the performance. The songs often convey deeply spiritual messages connected with traditional values and ideas, such as returning to one’s true home, seeking truth, and reverence towards the Creator.
References to the “Creator” are peppered throughout Chinese lore and religious texts, which spoke of the Creator descending to Earth to provide salvation to mankind.
After watching the soprano’s piece that referred to the Creator, Kennedy said she felt “that everything [in the performance] goes back to the Creator.”
And she left the theater feeling a “connection with [the] Creator.”
With reporting by Amy Le and Cathy He.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.