HOLLYWOOD—Ms. Martina Jones and Ms. Wendil David were among the lucky theatergoers who flocked to enjoy Shen Yun Performing Arts World Company on their opening night at the famous Dolby Theatre on Jan. 22.
Ms. David and Ms. Jones are each artists in their own right and well aware of the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve the level of excellence that is the hallmark of each Shen Yun show.
Ms. Jones is the daughter of the legendary musician Quincy Jones, the recipient of 26 Grammys, and Ulla Anderson, a former high fashion model for the prestigious Ford Agency.
The arts have shaped Ms. Jones’s life: she is a Swedish-American model, dancer, photographer, and teacher.
An actress who was born in India and raised in the United States, Ms. David has worked in films opposite three Oscar winners: Hillary Swank, Jamie Foxx, and Louis Gossett, Jr.
This is the second time Ms. David has seen Shen Yun Performing Arts. She was delighted to go this year when Ms. Jones invited her.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen it,” said Ms. Jones.
Shen Yun’s website explains what is at the core of a performance: “Chinese dance is at the heart of what Shen Yun does. Known for its incredible flips and spins, and its gentle elegance, it is one of the most rigorous and expressive art forms in the world.”
The synchronicity of dancers captivated Ms. Jones. “Everything together was just amazing,” she said.
“It’s hard to just pinpoint just one, every time I looked up they were doing a flip or they were doing a certain dance move, the whole synchronicity together was just amazing,” she added.
“I loved it,” Ms. Jones said, noting that she has danced for 13 years.
Classical Chinese dance has a rich history, rooted in 5,000 years of culture.
“Through expression of bearing and form, beautiful dance movements bring out the inner meaning of intrinsic thoughts and feelings, reflecting the peculiarities of human nature, the standard for human conduct, moral concepts, mental state, one’s value system, and so on,” explains the Shen Yun website.
With her background in dance Ms. Jones related to the vignettes of each dance. “The steps for me were the most important part because I know how much [work it is], if you don’t put your feeling behind it then it doesn’t really resonate and it doesn’t really come off on stage as it should.”
She loved “the gracefulness, I love the colors, and just how all the movements told a story. It was just really great!”
Bearing allows the Shen Yun dancers to be exquisite storytellers, they need no words to convey deep meaning for the audience.
As an actress, Ms. David understood the challenge of storytelling without words.
“They tell a story in such a beautiful way, it’s so much harder because there are no words,” she said.
Ms. David continued, “I think what they do is so much more complicated than what an actor does.”
“Their facial expressions, their synchronicity, just how they were able to keep their focus and basically just, the colors everything,” added Ms. Jones, “everything together was just amazing.”
Ms. David embraced the beauty of the performance. “The music, that the ladies that sang, and the one lady that was playing that instrument [erhu], it was so beautiful,” she said.
Each Shen Yun performance is accompanied by a full symphony orchestra, and vocalists who use the bel canto technique to sing Chinese text.
The erhu is a distinctive Chinese instrument, sometimes referred to as the “Chinese violin.” The Shen Yun website explains: “The erhu is one of the most important Chinese instruments, with a history of over 4,000 years. Though it has only two strings, it can convey a wide range of emotions.”
Shen Yun has a digital state-of-the-art animated background that draws the audience into the mystical and wonderful realms of each story.
The beauty of the screen combined with the dance touched Ms. David’s heart. “It’s so beautiful, the scenery and everything,” she said. “Really lovely.”
Each year Shen Yun bring to the world an entirely new program, with as many as 400 hundred hand-sewn costumes being made which represent many eras and dynasties.
“Throughout history almost every culture looked toward the divine for inspiration. Art was meant to uplift, bringing joy to both the people who created and experienced it. It is this principle that drives Shen Yun performers and their art,” states the website.
This inspiration was “very moving” for Ms. David.
“You know their message is incredible, really,” she said.
The message she felt the vignettes were expressing was founded in the struggle between good and evil.
In the segment The Power of Compassion she saw the strength of good over evil. In the piece, a Falun Dafa practitioner facing persecution by a Chinese police officer ends up helping the officer after he hurts himself. Falun Dafa (also called Falun Gong), a peaceful meditation practice rooted in traditional Chinese culture, has been persecuted in China since 1999.
“It was really lovely and I think the message was good over comes evil eventually,” said Ms. David.
Even in today’s world, she said, “Good is always relevant!”
Ms. Jones added, “I don’t how to explain it, but everybody basically should see each other as one.”
Ms. Jones also said that she wants her father to come see Shen Yun. “I would definitely recommend him to come!”
“He couldn’t come, but he wanted to,” she added. “He wanted to be here.”
Reporting by Yaning Liu and Cheryl Casati
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.