PROVIDENCE, R. I.—Jeffrey Doucette on Sunday traveled all the way from California just to see Shen Yun Performing Arts play at Rhode Island’s Providence Performing Arts Center with his mother.
Mr. Doucette is a retired diplomat who has travelled extensively. He formerly worked in the U.S. Embassy in Paris. He accompanied his mother to see Shen Yun for Mother’s Day.
“The [performance] is great—the artistry, the costumes, the colors … the set design, everything … the preciseness of all the movements and the coordination I think is just terrific,” he said.
Shen Yun is a narrative of 5,000 years of Chinese civilisations told through classical dance and music.
“[The] quality is unsurmountable. I mean, everything is just spot on,” Mr. Doucette said with enthusiasm.
From one side of the country to the other, the Shen Yun veteran said it was worth the trip again.
“I usually go around the country and see it when it’s performing in different places,” he said.
“It’s just very uplifting, especially when I think … of COVID and what we’re going through right now. It’s upbeat, … it’s soothing, it’s relaxing.”
Shen Yun is accompanied by the Shen Yun Orchestra, which is known for its unique and harmonious combination of traditional Eastern and classical Western instruments.
Mr. Doucette said that for him, Shen Yun expresses the very spiritual nature of ancient Chinese culture. He also appreciates the use of backdrops to translate the lyrics sung by the solo vocalists in the performance.
Shen Yun’s mission to revive the authentic Chinese culture from the pre-communist era is praiseworthy, the former diplomat said.
“It’s wonderful. I mean … showing what it was like before communist China gives … people, especially in America, a good perception of the thousands of years that the Chinese culture has brought and maintained,” he said.
Mr. Douette, who is familiar with many cultures, said he thought Chinese culture was outstanding.
“It’s one of a kind. I think it rivals all the art … that you can see in any part of the U.S. wherever you go. It’s something that should not be missed,” he said.
Father Jay Finelli, a catholic priest, was also in the audience. He was watching Shen Yun for the first time.
“The colors are just spectacular. The dance, the music, it all comes together. It’s all so beautiful and moving,” Father Finelli said.
“The way they dance just makes a burst of beauty.”
“I’ve always loved the Chinese culture. Hopefully someday, communism will be gone and there will be a rebirth because of the beauty [and] the kindness of the Chinese people,” he said.
Father Finelli gave his understanding of the spiritual message shared in Shen Yun’s stories.
“There is a plan for all of us from God and that’s connected to Chinese culture. They’re connected to God. We are all made by God and if everyone knew that we were made by God with a purpose, everyone would be kinder and there would be peace in the world,” he said.
He went on to express hope that Shen Yun’s performances would encourage the Chinese people to resist communism and unite peacefully.
“It’s not through war, but peace will come through people resisting and being kind to one another,” he said.
Ray and Darla Rilling had come to see Shen Yun with their four children. Mr. Rilling, director of technology at Putnam Plastics Corp., said his children enjoyed the performance. He said it was important for children to learn about another culture.
“The story is very good. [The performers] are very expressive and it’s easy to understand—and it’s fun to watch,” he said.
“You get to feel what the different cultures within China are like. So we got to see what the northern folks are like and then I think it’s a nice contrast compared to the southern cultures that were shown.”
He commended Shen Yun for telling the story of the oppression and lack of freedoms faced by the Chinese people.
Mrs. Rilling, a teacher, gave her thoughts on the lack of freedom in China.
“I wasn’t aware of the suppression of being unable to share the dance and the story within China. So I think it’s wonderful for our kids to experience,” she said.
Shen Yun is free to perform around the world but it has been banned in China, despite its presentation of traditional Chinese history and culture.
Mrs. Rilling was also impressed by the vibrancy and color in the performance.
“I think it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen a stage so alive. Shen Yun tells a wonderful story,” she said.
Reporting by Weiyong Zhu and Diane Cordemans.