COSTA MESA, Calif.—On a beautiful Saturday afternoon of March 15, Mary Leahy and Tony Smale were among a cheering audience at another sold-out performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company, at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Ms. Leahy is vice president at a values-based Catholic health care provider, which is the 10th largest not-for-profit health system in the United States.
She was highly impressed by the dance, the music, and the story of 5,000 years of China’s divinely-inspired traditional Chinese culture. “I think it’s fantastic. It’s absolutely exceeded my expectations. I mean the dancing and the music and the story line—it’s just fabulous,” said Ms. Leahy.
Independent and nonprofit, New York-based Shen Yun was established in 2006 by artists from around the world with the mission of using the universal language of dance and music to revive China’s divinely-inspired traditional Chinese culture, which had nearly been completely destroyed by the current regime in China over the last several decades.
As the Shen Yun website describes, “A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops—together creating one spectacular performance.”
Ms. Leahy explained, “I think the color, and the music, and the dancing, and the choreography together, I think, are fantastic.”
Mr. Smale, director of planning at the largest managed care organization in the country, added, “I think the use of colors is really stunning, and I love how they use different percussion type instruments, like with the drums and the sticks to choreograph that to the music. I think it’s really powerful.”
Each dance is supported by original music played by the Shen Yun Orchestra that blends ancient Chinese instruments, such as the erhu, pipa, and suona, with a full Western symphony orchestra. According to the website, “The sound produced is uniquely pleasing to the ear.”
“You know what’s incredible is the video. And how they combine the video and the dance and how that interacts. I have never seen anything like that,” Ms. Leahy said. “Very creative.”
She was referring to the digital backdrop that brings to life the context of each dance. The website explains: “With state-of-the-art graphics technology, Shen Yun’s digital-backdrop team creates vividly animated settings, extending the stage and transporting the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one.”
“It’s really great with the story,” Mr. Smale explained. “Very creative with the dragon and how it comes to life and the whole story—yeah, that’s great.”
According to the website, “Shen Yun cannot be seen in China today, where traditional culture has been nearly lost. Yet Shen Yun—a non-profit organization—has become an international phenomenon, bringing the wonders of ancient Chinese culture to millions across the globe.”
Mr. Smale expressed his interest, “I liked to see, hear the stories and I think it’s powerful. And I just read a little bit about how it was suppressed for years and now it’s found a venue or way of coming out and sharing that, telling that story, so I think that’s really powerful.”
He summed up, “It’s not like your typical show you would see because it’s coming out of a different culture and I think it’s visually very powerful. The dance and it’s just a great show.”
Ms. Leahy found that Shen Yun was educational, “It’s just an exposure to just a culture that I have not had a lot of exposure to.” She said that she will absolutely recommend Shen Yun to everyone.
Reporting by Albert Roman and Thanh 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.
The 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