LOS ANGELES—For three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist Leyna Nguyen, watching the evening showing of Shen Yun Performing Arts at Microsoft Theater April 23 was a feast for the eyes.
She expected the performance to be eye-opening, but there was something about physically being in the theater that made it special. “Until you sit there, you hear the music and you see the colors—it’s really incredible,” she said.
In her mere four-and-a-half decades, Mrs. Nguyen has had an exceptional career with numerous, notable accomplishments.
Her family moved to the United States from Vietnam in 1975, after the south succumbed to the communist north. Before the age of 30, she had been crowned “Miss Asia” and named “YWCA Woman of the Year.”
In 2000, Mrs. Nguyen was designated one of the country’s “25 Most Influential Vietnamese-Americans in 25 years,” and in 2011 she was honored by the California State Legislature as Woman of the Year for her philanthropic work. She founded the non-profit Love Across the Ocean, which helps underprivileged children and families in Vietnam.
Mrs. Nguyen has appeared as a news anchor or reporter in many movies and television shows including “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Pushing Daisies,” and “Boston Legal.”
She currently works as a news anchor for KCBS and KCAL-TV.
Mrs. Nguyen brought her nine-year-old daughter to watch Shen Yun. “I know my daughter loves [it],” she said. “When the curtains first opened, I looked at her face and she was amazed by what she saw. It’s really nice to be able to come here, sit back, relax, and just kind of get lost in the music, and get lost in what I’m seeing on stage.”
Indeed, audience members often describe being so engaged in the performance that they feel they are actually witnessing the history on display.
Shen Yun is a New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company that tours to over 100 cities in 20 countries across five continents each year. Its mission is to revive the resplendent beauty and values of China’s 5,000-year heritage.
Each performance includes approximately 20 vignettes that takes audiences on a journey through Chinese civilization. From the legend of the Yellow Emperor descending from the heavens to reign, to mythical tales of the Monkey King and his enchanting quest that takes audiences to the bottom of the sea, all the way to modern-day stories of courage and steadfast faith, each piece provides rich imagery and insights into Chinese culture.
Mrs. Nguyen thoroughly enjoyed the dancing.
“I’m amazed at how they do everything in unison and it’s just something [where] you sit there, and you’re mesmerized by the dancers. They’re just wonderful,” she said.
The dancers are accompanied by a full, live orchestra that blends both Eastern and Western instruments.
“Oh, the music; I love [it],” Mrs. Nguyen said, adding that the music was peaceful. Because her ethnic background is Vietnamese, she said “it feels like home; sounds like home, and it’s just really, really wonderful.”
Mrs. Nguyen said she wanted her daughter to understand that the orchestra was live rather than recorded. She told her, “There’s actually people down there playing it, and it’s live music. There’s nothing like listening to a live orchestra. And they’re able to match with the dancers,” she said. “Everyone is collaborating to tell this wonderful story, and it’s just magical.”
Beyond the aesthetic appeal, Shen Yun offers its audiences substantive content that is often thought-provoking.
“It’s more than just entertainment,” Mrs. Nguyen said. “I think it’s wonderful that it’s bringing a message of love and peace.”
Two pieces within the performance that are set in modern-day China depict spiritual believers who are persecuted for their beliefs. Yet, in the midst of their struggles, their faith helps them survive and, ultimately, persevere.
“I understand oppression. I come from Vietnam, so I know what it’s about,” said Mrs. Nguyen. “So I understand the message, and it’s being told in a beautiful way.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Albert Roman
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.