SAN JOSE, Calif.—One of the things that impressed Karen Beswick, a dance and yoga teacher, when she saw Shen Yun was how she saw the dancers cooperating instead of being competitive.
“Dance can be such a competitive thing, and it can be just a very egotistical thing,” she said. “And when it’s not that way, it’s extremely beautiful, and I loved that that’s coming through.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts, a classical Chinese dance and music company based in New York, tours the world each year with the mission of bringing China’s traditional culture to life onstage. Beswick enjoyed Shen Yun at the Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose, California, on Dec. 29.
“I thought it was fantastic,” she said. “I loved it, and I loved the combination of the divine nature of the dance with the artistry. … The music, it was extremely beautiful. I appreciated it in many different ways.”
China’s traditional culture is known as divinely inspired, as there is a belief that this culture came from the divine, according to Shen Yun’s website. Shen Yun aims to portray this ancient tradition for today’s audiences through dance pieces that tell Chinese stories and legends.
“[The spirituality is] beautiful. I really appreciate that,” said Beswick. “I loved that [they] brought it in, because it’s something that you don’t see very often, and especially in the world of dance.”
Classical Chinese Dance
Classical Chinese dance is an art form thousands of years old. According to Shen Yun’s website, it “combines explosive athleticism with flowing elegance.”
Beswick noticed this athleticism in the dancers, who often perform difficult jumps, flips, and tumbling techniques.
“It was … beautiful that way. They’re light on their feet, and they just fly through the air. It was a treat to get to see that, and obviously also to just appreciate all the training and all the commitment that all the dancers have. I definitely appreciated that,” she said.
Skill and physical training isn’t the only thing that sets Shen Yun dancers apart. They also have what the company’s website calls “an inner difference.” The performers meditate and study moral teachings together, striving to improve themselves so that they can create truly beautiful art.
Beswick saw this inner difference in the cooperation and lack of ego that she saw in the dancers.
“That’s really important, because then I think the audience relaxes more and feels like they’re being given a gift,” she said. “I felt like I noticed that in the dancers, too, some of them—it was just like they were just there, just to give a gift, not to be seen.”
She believes the dancers have a connection with the divine, and she was touched by the dancing.
“It’s very moving to me,” she said. “So I was talking to the divine. I was just saying … let me take from this whatever I’m supposed to learn, to pass on to others.”
With reporting by Mary Man and Sally Appert.
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.