BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—In the central valley of California, where agriculture and oil production are the main staples, Shen Yun Performing Arts has opened a window for the locals to a brand new world, which happens to be 5,000 years old.
Mesmerized by a fresh palette of colors, long flowing water sleeves, handkerchief boomerangs, and tall platform shoes with no heels, Shen Yun audience members at the Rabobank Theater were kept on the edges of their seats in the evening of April 28.
Among them were Mr. Gary Graupman and Mrs. Glenda Rust, who watched Shen Yun last year. They were delighted to come back to a brand new program.
“It’s very colorful and moving. The costumes and the different types of dances are just amazing,” said Mr. Graupman, a professor of Communications and English at Taft College. He was drawn to the unique sound of the Shen Yun Orchestra, which combines Western and classical Chinese instruments.
“I love the idea that the orchestra plays and you actually have a live orchestra, which is getting rarer and rarer. And the singing—I wasn’t expecting that.”
When the bel canto soloists of Shen Yun sing in Chinese, their voice penetrates deep into the souls, audiences often say. The lyrics, with the translation projected on the backdrop, are original works brimming with philosophical reflection about life. They go beyond the boundaries of nation, race, and culture, and have been fondly received and appreciated the world over.
Mr. Graupman felt a connection with the lyrics. “I do believe in what [the lyrics] are saying . I like the idea. It’s a great idea. It’s something to strive for. It is, obviously, a different culture, but I think we all strive for the same things as humans.”
Mrs. Rust, a retired human resources manager for an oil company, felt the same way: “I feel a connection, especially to the lyrics of various songs. And as my husband was saying, it does go across cultures, across the seas, across the world, and I just enjoy this show.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts has the mission to revive China’s divinely inspired traditional culture, at the core of which is the reverence for the heavens. Since its establishment in 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts has been gracing some of the prestigious stages around the world.
Through watching Shen Yun, Mr. Graupman obtained a new understanding about Chinese culture. “I think the Chinese culture is a very old culture, and has gone through many phases and stages. Where we are at right now, with the political climate there, things have obviously changed. The past is not honored as much, and not celebrated as much.”
It saddens Mrs. Rust to know that Shen Yun cannot perform in China. “I find it sad that it’s not done in China, and I just think it’s beautiful.”
According to Shen Yun website, since the Chinese Communist Party is officially an atheist regime, it is afraid of the freedom of expression this arts company enjoys in the West. Prof. Graupman was “glad that there is somebody keeping the traditions and the art form alive.”
“I am hoping we will come back year after year,” Mrs. Rust said.
‘The lyrics really was touching to me’
Another audience member who was also touched by the lyrics and the music was Mr. Neil Orton, a professor in Communication at Bakersfield College.
Before leaving the theater, he purchased the Shen Yun Orchestra DVD. Then he returned to the theater to purchase the Shen Yun photo book. “The music is fantastic. I not only bought that (DVD), I came back and got the book to go with it because I love it,” he said.
Professor Orton taught severely developmentally delayed children for a number of years. He appreciates the healing power of dance and music.
“I really know that dance and music are so important. With my special needs kids, we did dance and movement all the time as part of the learning. I loved that they combined the backdrop with the dance movements. It makes a whole world of it.”
“And the lyrics talking about coming to earth, having challenges, and going back to heaven, that really was touching to me,” he added.
Reporting by NTD Television, Jenny Liu, and Sophia Fang
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.
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.