DETROIT—Jean and Janet Randolph haven’t missed an annual performance since Shen Yun Performing Arts began touring in 2006. They saw the eleventh performance of the traditional Chinese dance and music company at the Detroit Opera House on Dec. 23, 2016.
What draws this couple back over and over is their love of dance, art, Chinese culture as depicted by Shen Yun, and by how the performance makes them feel.
“It’s a highlight of our year. It’s something I look forward to, put on the calendar immediately,” Mrs. Randolph said.
“Coming here is spiritually uplifting for us. [We come] away with a sense of peace, and seeing all the beautiful things that Shen Yun has to offer,” Mrs. Randolph said.
“I’d like to thank the dancers and all the performers for putting on such a wonderful show,” Mrs. Randolph said. “I know how much hard work they put into all this to put such a beautiful performance. It’s just amazing what they’re able to do.”
“I think she said it all for me,” Mr. Randolph said.
Authentic Chinese Culture Revisited
Shen Yun’s aim is to revitalize Chinese culture by unveiling 5,000 years of ancient Chinese culture and its associated moral elements. This is illustrated by the storytelling of Classical Chinese dance, original and live orchestral music that combines Western and Eastern instruments, and by opera-like songs set to philosophically rich lyrics.
Amid the myths, legends, and past and present history are the hundreds of vibrant costumes and an animated backdrop that changes with each act and that dynamically interacts with the performers.
Jean Randolph is an high school art teacher, and his wife, Janet, teaches tai chi, but was a professional photographer for 34 years.
For each annual 6-month tour across the globe, Shen Yun creates a new program for audiences’ enjoyment.
“Each year it’s different, and each year I know I’m going to be surprised and I’m never disappointed,” Mrs. Randolph said.
They like to seat in different section of the theater each year to get a different perspective. “This time they were up higher,” Mr. Randolph said, so the couple could see the overall dance formations.
Shen Yun Is Known for Its Beauty
For Mr. Randolph, art instruction has been his life for 50 years, he said, “So I appreciate the colors and the fabrics.”
He takes the performance back to his classroom in teaching drawing and painting, as well as with interacting with Chinese students, both those who have never been to China and those who were raised there.
The beauty of a Shen Yun performance impresses Mr. Randolph. “I just enjoy it so much, and each year it seems to get better” he said. “They’re just all like paintings to me.”
Classical Chinese Dance Touches Audience’s Hearts
The hallmark of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance. It is a complete system of dance “embodying traditional aesthetic principles with its unique dance movements, rhythms, and inner meaning,” the company’s website states.
“When I see them dancing up there, in my heart, I’m dancing with “them”; I love it, “Mrs. Randolph said.
“It brings [the] emotional out of me, to feel my spirit is connected with their dancing. I get all emotional.”
Audience members report that they can be laughing one moment and crying the next. “Sometimes it makes me very sad when I see people getting mistreated, and I feel the pain,” Mrs. Randolph said. Other times she felt uplifted with hope expressed through the dancing, music, and songs.
Classical Chinese dance is noted for its expressiveness which Shen Yun uses to tell stories. These can range from stories of touching stories of persecution to comic stories from China’s literary classics.
“The whole program is enriching,” Mrs. Randolph said.
“With goodness and happiness and joy. Especially at this time of year, it’s supposed to be a joyous time of the year, and this is exactly what we need right now.”
“The costumes, everything, for me it’s kind of food for the soul. It’s just nourishment,” she said.
“I come away from that enlightened and uplifted and I’m speechless.”
I think the message that Shen Yun gives [is] that good overcomes evil, and that you need more good in the world to overcome the evil that’s out there and in the times that we’re living in right now,” Mrs. Randolph said.
“We need a lot more people to see programs like this to appreciate the goodness in mankind, and to fight the evil that’s in the world,” she said.
Learning About Modern-day China’s Oppression of Traditions
Shen Yun offers audience a chance to learn about the oppression of Falun Gong, a traditional meditation system persecuted in modern-day China.
“Many cultures have been persecuted, their religious beliefs, and we see that here with Falun Gong, and eventually the good always overcomes [the evil], and this will be the case also … ,” Mr. Randolph said.
Mr. Randolph applauded Shen Yun for their mission to bring Chinese traditional culture and the introduction of the persecution to everyone the world. “Especially to Americans, we need to see other cultures,” he said.
Happy Anniversary Shen Yun
Mrs. Randolph wished everyone associated with Shen Yun a happy anniversary. “You’re doing a fabulous job, keep up the good work, and I’m going to see you again next year.”
“Thank you again for bringing the show to Detroit. Thank you,” Mr. Randolph said.
Reporting by Nancy Ma/NTD Television and Cat Rooney/Epoch Times