SAN FRANCISCO—Eric Anderson, chief financial officer of a large company in the Bay Area, and his wife, Cindy, a high school English teacher, enjoyed Shen Yun Performing Arts at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, Jan. 11.
“I think that Chinese culture is [a] beautiful culture,” he said after watching the two-hour production.
Mrs. Anderson agreed. “It was fascinating,” she said, adding that other performers, especially dancers, would greatly enjoy Shen Yun.
“The dancing was amazing and the costuming and the choreography was amazing too. The gracefulness of the women [was] incredible, and I loved the costuming with the flowing—either the sleeves, or even the ribbons in the ones that the guys used—I thought that was all amazing, very beautiful.”
Shen Yun is a New York-based music and dance company that tours each year to 100 cities throughout five continents on a mission to bring 5,000 years of Chinese culture to life.
The performance includes world class, classically-trained dancers who, through vignettes, portray China’s rich history replete with mythical legends, folk and ethnic dances, and various dynasties.
Mr. Anderson particularly enjoyed the opening piece in the second half of the performance called “Lotus Fairies.”
In this piece, “Dancers holding long silken fans glide across the stage like celestial fairies in flight,” according to the program book.
He also enjoyed the rhythm of a dance called “Mongolian Chopsticks,” where Mongolian men use “fast, furious footwork” and chopsticks to create a lively, staccato beat.
A major feature of Shen Yun Performing Arts is the live orchestra that plays in sync with every movement of the dancers. Its original pieces combine traditional Eastern and classical Western instruments.
“The ability to seamlessly blend these two systems to create one fresh, harmonious sound is what makes the Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra unique,” according to the Shen Yun website.
As someone who also sings and plays the guitar, drums, and piano, Mr. Anderson enjoyed and was impressed by the orchestra.
“I loved the live orchestra; loved it. Yes. [It was] very nice,” he said.
Shen Yun, however, cannot be seen in China because of the artistic expression that is still repressed there.
Mr. Anderson said, “I think it’s pretty sad how they can’t do this in China… The Communist [Party is] not good.”
Ballerina: Shen Yun ‘Beautiful and Very Educational’
Another couple in the audience at the War Memorial Opera House Jan. 11 was Gene Campbell, owner of multiple businesses, and his daughter, Chloe, a ballerina.
“I love it,” Mr. Campbell said. “What’s amazing is how well synchronized they are. They’re beautiful; the costumes—it’s fantastic. I think it’s very creative. It’s interesting how they’re trying to weave the story together—I’m enjoying it.”
Mr. Campbell and his daughter both enjoyed the ethnic dance “In a Yao Village” where, according to the program book, “Young girls of the Yao ethnic group, dressed in pleated skirts and embroidered turbans, bask in the sunshine while cradling bright flowers and green kerchiefs.”
“I liked it, and they (dancers) looked like they were having fun,” Mr. Campbell said.
His daughter, Chloe, has an eight-year background in dance; she’s been dancing since she was five.
She said the dance moves aren’t as easy as they look.
“I love it so much. There’s a lot of jumps, and they’re a lot harder than it seems. They always hold their arms out so beautifully, and it’s so much more complicated than it looks,” she said.
She knows from experience.
“In dance class we hold our arms up for hours and hours, and we don’t stop and it’s very, very tricky to keep it so beautifully posed. So, they do a very good job at that.”
Chloe said that ballet and classical Chinese dance are two of the most complex dance systems in the world and that they involve great discipline and natural grace.
The prospect of dancing for Shen Yun enthralled her.
“Yes, I would love to do that, too,” she said, adding that performing at the War Memorial Opera House would be amazing.
One piece that struck a chord in Chloe was called “The Steadfast Lotus,” where a young girl, perhaps close to Chloe’s age, and her mother are torn apart as they are victims of the persecution of the spiritual discipline known as Falun Dafa.
“It was good to see some contemporary, the contemporary part of China [and] to really show how it really is in China right now—they need to stop that. And every little girl should be able to do whatever she desires,” she said.
Chloe was highly impressed with Shen Yun. If she were to invite her friends to Shen Yun, she said she would describe it as beautiful and very educational.
Reporting by Qian Zhang and Albert Roman
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.
The 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.