HARTFORD, Conn.—Being a dance historian, critic, writer, Barbara Malinsky understands dance like no other. She is a contributor for the International Encyclopedia of Dance and a guest curator for several dance exhibitions.
When she saw Shen Yun Performing Arts at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts at Hartford, Connecticut, on April 20 she was full of compliments for many elements of the performance.
“I think the show was wonderful. I think it was inspiring. I think that the production value was outstanding—the costumes, the special effects, the dancers were exceptionally well trained, and there was a diversity of choreography,” Malinsky said.
New York-based Shen Yun takes audience members on a journey through China’s 5,000 years of semi-divine culture in a performance that is frequently described as “eye-opening.” Through about 20 vignettes, the performance relays the essence of genuine Chinese culture using performing arts, and inspires viewers through stories based on universal values and themes that are slowly fading away from our lives.
These themes and values, especially the importance of spirituality, gave Malinsky an important glimpse into the foundation of what Chinese civilization and culture were built upon—something that has lost its value in modern communist China. She added that the performance was able to deliver that aspect in a commendable way and experiencing it was “spiritually inspiring” for her.
“I’m impressed by the universality of thinking, of people being upset by the fact that something is missing in their lives, and all the materialism in the world is not a substitute for a greater good, a greater experience, which was shown at the end,” Malinsky said.
“I think that all cultures believe in a superior force or superior being and believe in spirituality, which has been unfortunately suppressed in China,” she added.
China was once known as Shen Zhou, or divine land, a term which describes a time where mortals and deities co-existed as well as an old belief that the divine transmitted a rich culture to the people of the earth, according to the company website.
But after seven decades of communist rule, most of this culture was pulled apart or changed in favor of communist thinking dictated by Mao Zedong and subsequent leaders. The multiple campaigns aimed at systematically dismantling traditional culture had not only destroyed physical historical buildings, ancient relics, and traditions, but also completely warped the spirit of the Chinese identity.
Seeing that genuine Chinese culture was at the brink of being wiped out, a group of overseas artists was determined to bring back everything that truly defined the Chinese people. This was how Shen Yun Performing Arts was born back in 2006.
Malinsky described Shen Yun’s mission as a “noble cause,” adding that she thinks it is tragic the performance cannot be seen in China.
The dance historian said she hopes that one day the people in China can finally experience Shen Yun for themselves. She said, “That would be a wonderful thing.”
With reporting by Yawen.
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.