HOUSTON—The words Shen Yun in Chinese mean “the beauty of divine beings dancing.” This is exactly what minister Julio Robert Roldan felt after attending Shen Yun Performing Arts at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in Houston on Dec. 27.
“[The dancing] is something that you admire and it’s pure,” Roldan said.
“It comes from [the dancers’] hearts.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts is the premier classical Chinese dance company that showcases 5,000 years of Chinese civilization through traditional music and dance. It is currently in the midst of its 2019 touring season, which spans four continents and over one hundred cities.
Roldan has seen Shen Yun three times with his wife over the years. He said they return each time because he feels there is something heavenly about the performance.
The dances in each performance were not just about the physical movements and expressions, said Roldan.
“There’s a spiritual level in it,” he said.
“[The dancers] put their heart into it.”
It is this “heart” that separates classical Chinese dance from other types of performance arts. Alongside mastering a rigorous physical component, classical Chinese dance requires the cultivation of “yun” or inner bearing. It is this quality that allows the dancer to share their inner world through their movements and expressions.
Roldan did indeed feel this quality, and it is precisely the reason why he has watched the show so many times, he said.
“The energy actually comes from their own inside in order to do the movements … and that’s what I liked [about] it,” Roldan said.
Dancers at Shen Yun work on this inner bearing by emphasizing the improvement of their character. This is consistent with traditional Chinese beliefs that centered upon aligning oneself with heaven through moral elevation. Such values and beliefs are deeply etched into an ancient culture that has been heavily influenced by Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Many of the dancers also practice the spiritual discipline Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa. Falun Gong combines ancient teachings with meditation exercises, and is based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Practitioners of Falun Gong aim to apply these principles in their everyday lives, and therefore these principles may also find expression through the dancers on stage.
For Roldan, the culmination of the exquisite physical expression along with the profound inner meaning conveyed by the dancers was something to behold.
“[They dance] in a way that you can say ‘wow, they are dancing just the way that the angels do, just like people from heaven do,'” he said.
Songs Bring Awareness
The minister also found this heavenly quality in the songs performed by the vocal soloists. He felt the songs could help people become aware of a higher purpose in life.
Roldan said that the lyrics may spur people to seek the spiritual path.
“You have to always seek for something … that it’s going to bring people back to the reality of the heavenly life that we have to live,” Roldan said of the themes.
Shen Yun’s vocal soloists sing in a long-lost bel canto style, and perform original songs that reflect the spiritual depths of traditional Chinese culture. The lyrics often invoke a yearning to seek truth and the meaning of life.
For Roldan, one of the messages he received from the song was: “Our words and our deeds have something to do with what’s going to happen to us.”
With reporting by Sally Sun 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.