NEW YORK—Shen Yun Performing Arts struck Ms. Marjorie Joffee, a former dancer, as beautiful performance that helps relax and heal audience members.
“It’s like the best way to change poison into medicine in your life is to see a beautiful dance like this,” she said. “It’s like a way to change one’s heart. It’s really a treasure because the heart is the most important.”
Ms. Joffee and her husband, Monte, took in the matinee of Shen Yan at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on April 28. Mr. Joffee, who helped start the Renaissance Charter School, also expressed a positive feeling during the performance.
“I felt optimism, I felt joy coming out of the performance,” he said. “And that’s what the times really need right now.”
Based in New York, Shen Yun crisscrosses the globe presenting a revival of the ancient, divinely inspired Chinese culture. The 5,000 year-old culture is replete with a rich and profound system of values, including respect for the heavens and divine retribution, and benevolence, propriety, and wisdom, according to the company’s website.
The artists of Shen Yun, including dancers and musicians, have made meditation, a key part of the ancient culture, part of their daily schedule, finding that “it brings great benefits,” according to the company’s website. On stage, this helps performers bring the traditional culture and all of its divine elements to life.
Mr. Joffee elaborated on the importance of Shen Yun’s performance.
“The human heart has become hardened, unfortunately, and the heart for culture has dissipated,” he said. “I felt my heart was melted a little bit—the glacier is starting to thaw.”
The performance includes many different elements, which harmonize into a whole effect.
“I think it was the youthful performers, first of all; I think it was the design of the program, which actually was meant to be educative as well as entertaining; the size as well as the fullness and variety; the length of time of each performance; the climax,” said Mr. Joffee.
While New York-based Shen Yun travels around the world to 100-plus cities each year, the company cannot travel to China, because the ruling communist regime nearly decimated the culture.
Several dances portray the situation in modern China, including the persecution of the meditation practice Falun Gong, which teaches people to follow truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. In 1999, the communist regime began a ruthless campaign of persecution against tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners. Through the years the practitioners have used peaceful means to resist the persecution.
“It’s a beautiful way to protest abuse, through peace and culture, through dance,” said Ms. Joffee.
Dance Movements Stand Out
Ms. Joffee used to dance for the Pennsylvania Ballet Company and the José Limon Modern Dance Company.
She said she has been wanting to see Shen Yun for four years.
“It was really beautiful to see as a dancer how they did their movements,” she said. “How graceful and how more flexible they are than in ballet, the different ways of walking and floating.”
Classical Chinese dance, along with ethnic and folk dance and story-based dance, is at the heart of a Shen Yun performance.
Classical Chinese dance has a long history of thousands of years and has incorporated elements from different dynasties and eras, according to Shen Yun’s website.
“Other than complete training in the fundamentals, it also entails systematic training in movements and postures, as well as very difficult jumping and tumbling techniques,” it explains. “And so, alongside ballet, classical Chinese dance is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world.”
Reporting by Joshua Philipp and Zachary Stieber
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. The next performances in the northeastern United States are in Philadelphia May 3-5. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.