COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—On the chilly afternoon of Jan. 30, Shen Yun filled the Pikes Peak Center with the swelling music of a live orchestra, and colorful silken costumes of ancient China animated through the gravity-defying flips of classical Chinese dancers.
Shen Yun is a New York-based performing arts company whose mission is to revive 5,000 years of Chinese culture prior to the communist era through dance and music.
Ballet dancer Emma Helgesen attended with her parents Jeanna and Bryan Helgesen. If the world is still reeling from a pandemic, you wouldn’t know it from the jubilation on the Helgesen’s faces.
“I choose not to live in fear at all and I think all of us have to face sicknesses and dangers every day, so I just think it’s really important to keep living life and enjoy it because each day is special,” Bryan said. “We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so I have absolutely no fear of coming out. I’m very glad to see a lot of people out. It made me very happy.”
They came for Emma’s and Jeanna’s birthdays—Emma’s especially as she had just closed on the ‘Nutcracker’ and is currently preparing to perform in the ballet ‘Don Quixote.’ Emma had been dancing since she was 2 and a half years old.
“The quality was superb!” Emma said. “All of the dancers were just so amazing and incredible. They appeared very confident. I could tell that they really enjoyed what they were doing and they love their culture.”
For Bryan, every scene was beautiful.
“Each country in society has its own cultures. Here in the United States, we’re kind of a melting pot of many cultures and each culture has its own beauty, so I think it’s very important to be able to express freely the values and traditions of your own culture—in this case, the Chinese culture,” he said.
Interestingly, though Shen Yun presents Chinese culture, it is not allowed to be performed in China—partly because it is the traditional, divinely inspired culture that the atheist Chinese regime has sought to destroy, and partly because Shen Yun makes a point to highlight religious persecution taking place in China today.
For Bryan, Shen Yun offered a different perspective on China.
“In the news, we only hear about the communist perspective of the world and China,” he said. “It (the performance) made me feel very happy for the Chinese people. I think the Chinese people are beautiful and I like them. I like the messages that the performance sent as well.”
Semi-retired jazz musician Adam Johnston came to see Shen Yun for the second time.
“You feel good when you see this show,” he said. He was impressed by the East-meets-West orchestra. Some of the key Chinese instruments that feature in the music are the two-stringed erhu, the pipa, and the bugle-like suona.
“It’s probably hard to combine. That’s the beauty—that you are able to combine the Eastern instruments with the Western instruments and make a beautiful sound and do it for a whole show is very good,” he said.
It brought to his mind a quote from Martin Luther, who once said that “next to the Bible, ‘music deserves the highest praise.’ So that’s the value of music, whether it’s in the Chinese tradition there or wherever good music is good for the soul.”
Reporting by Sally Sun.
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.