WASHINGTON—Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Harvey Johnson said Shen Yun’s artistry electrified his senses, while its spiritual message touched the depths of his heart.
Johnson said he was enthralled by the beauty of the costumes, dancing, and music, but it was the performance’s spiritual connection that left the deepest impression on him.
“This experience was an uplifting experience, very energetic,” he said. “It really touched my heart.
“I always leave here inspired.”
The official and his wife Lisa, who works at the Department of Defense, are fans of the Shen Yun, having watched it many times over the years.
“[I] love it every year. Seems like every year I catch something new about the act,” Johnson said.
This year, they attended the performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington D.C. on its opening night on April 17.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts is the premier classical Chinese dance company whose mission is to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through music and dance.
Johnson, who heads the offices of resolution management, and diversity and inclusion at the Department of Veteran Affairs, said it was Shen Yun’s portrayal of how faith in the divine can inspire people to overcome great suffering that deeply resonated with him.
“When you see someone suffering and you see someone injured or killed even, and you see that spirit come down, [then] that light shines upon them and brings them back—that’s what I love.”
“I could watch that all day because I believe that’s what the world needs.”
“I think that shows like this that connect us to that light, that spirituality.”
The official was referring to the stories depicting the suppression of adherents of spiritual practice Falun Gong by the communist regime in today’s China. Falun Gong, which surged in popularity in the country in the 1990s, was banned by the regime in 1999. Since then, waves of practitioners have been harassed, imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for their faith.
The stories of persecution presented by Shen Yun end in a message of hope—that of goodness overcoming evil and suffering. Johnson was moved by the beauty of this message.
“It just brought an awareness to the suffering that’s going on in China, and other places around the world,” he said.
“You can just see this suffering and it’s nice to know that there’s voice out there for the people who don’t have that voice, and then bring it to the masses, so that change can occur.”
Johnson said it wasn’t just himself who was moved by the performance.
“I think [Shen Yun] touches everybody who sees it,” he said.
Thus the positive effect of the show is multiplied across many people, he said, because the people who watch it will then tell other people to come, creating a compounding effect.
“That’s really the beauty of something like this,” Johnson said.
After watching the performance, Johnson said he was inspired to make positive changes in his life.
“It makes you want to be a better person, to really go into yourself and to see, how can I make myself better so that when I go out into the world, I can make the world a better place, so that there’s less of the things going on that are negative.”
“So it’s definitely a ripple effect.”
With reporting by NTD Television and Sherry Dong.
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.