OMAHA, Neb.—David Orchard found his evening attending a performance by Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company fascinating. “It’s a very creative performance,” he said. “It’s not something that I am used to seeing here” in Omaha. Mr. Orchard saw the performance at the city’s premiere venue, the Orpheum Theater, on Jan. 14.
At the heart of the New York-based company is classical Chinese dance, the vehicle through which the company mines China’s 5,000 year-old civilization for stories to depict on stage.
As the company’s website has it, “For 5,000 years divine culture flourished in the land of China. Humanity’s treasure was nearly lost, but through breathtaking music and dance, Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture.”
Mr. Orchard, an IT director for Kutak Rock, a national law firm in Omaha, was surprised that what he saw as a colorful performance with lots of energy was not allowed to perform in China itself.
“It’s very peaceful music,” he said. “It fits very well with the background. It’s just very calming and peaceful.”
Part of the reason this performance was so interesting to him was that little of what he saw on stage remains in China today. “Based on what you see in China, you don’t really get a feel of what the classical Chinese is like,” he said.
The phrase “Shen Yun” roughly translates as “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” thus the aim of the company is to acknowledge the roots of Chinese culture as semi-divine.
Mr. Orchard felt that the spiritual aspect is a part of Chinese culture and clearly front and center in the performance, as a celebration of the deities, a celebration of spirituality and, at the same time, a celebration of nature.
“American culture and Western cultures share a similarity, he said, in that they both embody spirituality in theater. But there is a difference. America has Jesus Christ Super Star or Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” but it’s really only in Western popular culture.”
But with Shen Yun, “the fun thing is this is from ancient china, classical China, so Western culture didn’t’ really evolve this kind of liveliness and spirituality,” he said.
Reporting by Stacy Chen and Sharon Kilarski
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.