CHICAGO—Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company performed at Chicago's Civic Opera House on Saturday afternoon, April 16, its second of 10 shows this year at the prestigious venue. The show's talent and message drew appreciation from audience members.
Brother and sister, Peter Yep and Mary Yep, addressed these aspects of the show. Peter said, “An event like this, it really gives an insight into what ancient Chinese culture was like. Not only the ancient history and the wonderful culture, but also the struggle they are going through now and the suppression of that beauty.”
At the core of Shen Yun’s performances is classical Chinese dance with China's numerous ethnic and folk dance styles also included. The dances capture the essence of the peoples it represents—how they lived, how they thought, and what was important to them. For instance, one dance represents the ladies of the Tang dynasty imperial court with their elegance. A Mongolian dance represents their closeness to nature, through the representation of galloping horses and wild birds. Two other dances portrayed anecdotes from well-known stories from Chinese novels, including one from the classic Journey to the West.
The suppression Peter referred to comes across in the dances Our Story and No Regrets, both of which address the Chinese regime's suppression of freedom of belief, and in particular, the persecution of the traditional spiritual practice of Falun Gong in China today.
“It was very powerful for us to all sit there you know, and comprehend, and to be able to participate … we greatly appreciate it,” Peter said.
Along with the show's message, Mary appreciated the artists' talent. “It's a wonderful culmination of the talents between the music and the dancing, and it also has that underlining message of freedom.” The music Mary referred to includes the Shen Yun Orchestra and award-winning solo vocalists. The orchestra is unique in that it combines classical Western instruments, such as the violin, trumpet, and flute, with traditional Chinese instruments, such as the erhu and suona, to produce a unique sound.
Mary and Peter felt a particular connection to the show because, as Peter explained, “My great grandfather actually came from China.” Their awareness of this part of their past helped them gain a deeper appreciation of the show.
Looking towards future shows, Mary said, “I would definitely promote this show … I invite all young people to—come see it—It makes us feel really great for the freedom that we have. It makes us grateful.”
Reporting by Valerie Avore and Beth Lambert.
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform at Chicago's Civic Opera House through April 24. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org