NEW YORK—Seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts for the first time, Nicholas Chater was impressed with the classical take on ancient China he had not seen in performing arts before.
“It was very original to see it for the first time,” said Chater, CFO of merchant services for a bank. “Having seen the excerpts, I found it very interesting to see the different dances, the way it was performed. The differences between the classical dances of marrying classical with folklore was particularly well performed.”
New York-based Shen Yun’s mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture through the arts, and each two-hour production includes ancient myths and legends, glimpses into the various dynasties, an introduction to the various regions and ethnicities of the vast land, and more. The music and choreography is composed anew each season, and Chater caught a performance on March 6, 2020, at Lincoln Center in New York.
“It’s fascinating,” Chater said. “It’s an extremely good show. It’s beautifully done, it’s very poetic, and it’s very nicely performed and very interesting to see for the first time.”
The performance was both delicate and dynamic for Chater. Beginning with the inception of Chinese civilization from 5,000 years ago with a story that touched on the legend of the Creator, the stories jump through time up to the present day, where spiritual believers still carry on the traditional culture in China—but face oppression by the ruling communist regime.
For Chater, this moved his heart, because it a worrying thing to realize is continuing in the world.
“The delicate piece about the repression in China was very touching,” he said.
Amazing Story of Culture
The expressive moments of the dancers struck a poetic note for others in the audience as well: Darren Skomorowsky and Prani Kromi were moved by the beauty of the dances on stage.
“Oh it’s absolutely amazing; the colors, the show—it’s like a diamond. It’s got a lot of facets,” said Skomorowsky, a director of sales and marketing. “There’s a lot of movement and color, and it’s like poetry on stage.”
Kromi gave praise to each of these facets, from the costumes to the choreography of the stories and the orchestra playing below the stage, and added how she impressed she was. As for the dancers, she said it was more than dance: “It’s like flying, actually.”
Classical Chinese dance is at the heart of what Shen Yun does, a millennia-old dance system that is filled with not only bombastic technical feats but requires an emphasis on the feelings that drive a movement.
Skomorowsky pointed to “Water Sleeves,” a graceful piece where the female dancers’ costumes feature long, long sleeves they catch and release in waves like water.
“It grabbed my heart,” he said. “The colors are amazing, the movements are just absolutely fabulous, it’s so fluid.”
“They’re amazing. You can tell they’ve dedicated a lot of their life to the movements on stage. It’s like watching water move across the stage, it’s amazing,” he said.
More than just an incredible display of dance, Skomorowsky and Kromi felt Shen Yun was getting across an amazing story: one about the divinely inspired civilization of ancient China, and Shen Yun’s revival of this once-lost traditional culture.
“I think it’s an amazing story that’s being told. I think it’s an expression not only of the art, but the culture that it comes from,” Skomorowsky said.
With reporting by Sherry Dong and Dongyu Teng.
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.