NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—Jean Smart, a three-time Emmy-winning actress, brought her 7-year-old daughter to Shen Yun Performing Arts for the third time at the Valley Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, April 20, in what has become a mother-daughter tradition.
“We try to see it every year,” said Ms. Smart. “This time I think I enjoyed it more than ever. It just made me feel really good.”
Jean Smart began her career as a theater actress, later working heavily in television and occasionally film. She won two Emmys for her role as Lana Gardener on the television series “Frasier,” and another for playing Regina Newley on “Samantha Who?” She has also received many nominations, including an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her role in the film “Guinevere.”
Ms. Smart’s daughter Bonnie was adopted as a baby from China in 2009. The actress said she thinks Shen Yun is very important for the young girl to see and experience.
Shen Yun itself was created with the goal of reviving true, divinely-inspired Chinese culture, which is known to have a history of 5,000 years.
“This part of the culture is important to maintain, so that people can see it,” Ms. Smart said.
A Shen Yun performance features an elite team of artists, trained in the rigorous and richly-expressive classical Chinese dance. A series of themed vignettes take the audience on a journey through ancient Chinese stories and legends, all the way up to modern times and heroic tales, while Shen Yun’s orchestra provides lively accompaniment with both traditional Western and Chinese instruments.
“The discipline it takes is indescribable,” Ms. Smart said. “They don’t show it because they’re so graceful. They look like they’re enjoying themselves so much. The costumes were gorgeous this year. I was just really, really impressed with them this year.”
Ms. Smart has also been nominated for a Tony for her theater work on Broadway, so she knows a lot about the hard work that goes into such a production. She was very moved by Shen Yun’s dancers’ strength, discipline, and talent, and how even the most difficult dancing movements were made to look effortless.
“The thing that was remarkable was you never hear a single footstep, and I was in the fourth row!” she said. “It was as if they were on air.”
Because their seats were so close to the stage, Ms. Smart and her daughter could hear the musicians in the orchestra very well, along with the several musical and vocal soloists on stage. Ms. Smart loved the singers’ song lyrics about how life is difficult, but still full of happiness and love.
“We all know that there isn’t really joy without some pain and darkness, but ultimately it’s still about joy in the end,” she said.
Ms. Smart also commented on the interactive backdrop behind the dances, which allows the stage to appear to expand, as the performers seem to leap inside the vibrant Chinese landscapes. This makes it possible for the artists to portray any number of magical feats from Chinese lore.
“It was very effective,” she said.
The actress again said that this year there was just something about the positive energy of Shen Yun’s performers and the joy and humor in the performance that struck her. She thanked the performers and praised them.
“Everybody in it is so impressive. Not a weak link in the chain,” she said. “I am so impressed with every single solitary one of you. Please keep sharing what you’re sharing with us and enjoy it, because it looks like you are!”
Ms. Smart encouraged others to come and see Shen Yun.
“If you’ve never seen it, go see it. It’s different every year. If you’ve seen it once, it’s not the same, so come back.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Michael Ye and Sarah Le
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.