BALTIMORE—The former president of Maryland Theatre’s board of directors is a lover of the arts. And it is his love for performing arts that brought him to experience Shen Yun Performing Arts on Dec. 22, a performance he said, “every school child and every person ought to be able to see over the world.”
Ronald Bowers said Shen Yun brings depth and perception of China to the world and reminds people to work together as people of the world.
“I’ve never seen a performance in all of my life that equal to what I saw today,” Bowers said.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts is a world-class dance and music company. It is currently performing at Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore. The company’s mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture and showcase the inner spiritual core of China’s culture, which encompasses the virtues such as benevolence, kindness, and honor.
Shen Yun dances draw from China’s 5,000 years of semi-divine culture and give life virtues such as “respect the heavens to know one’s destiny” and “man and nature must be in balance.” Meanwhile, there is a belief that the divine transmitted this rich culture to the people of the earth, according to Shen Yun’s website. As for Bowers, he was excited to get a glimpse of this divine culture, and thinks that it brings people together.
“[T]his brought people together … showed how people can really be together, doing different things,” Bowers said.
He added that the performance displays how people are going in a “full circle” to return back to this divine culture.
Special Christmas Gift
Bower’s grandson, Jay Wandalowski, also attended the performance. He bought tickets to Shen Yun as a surprise Christmas gift for his wife, Mimi Lising, who had wanted to watch the performance for about two years.
Lising, who works for the National Cancer Institute, said the performance was beyond her imagination and the performers touched her heart.
“What I loved about … watching the performance [is] they were so strong. The way they express the emotions, it was amazing. I couldn’t believe that you could have such emotion through your body,” Lising said.
According to the Shen Yun website, the dance movements of classical Chinese dance can bring out the inner meaning of intrinsic thoughts and feelings, reflecting the peculiarities of human nature, the standard for human conduct, moral concepts, mental state, and one’s value system. China’s deep cultural traditions are contained in classical Chinese dance, allowing its movements to be richly expressive.
The expression comes from the performer’s bearing and form. A performer’s “bearing” is described as a particular inner spirit and is formed by a combination of something resembling cultural DNA or an ethnic flavor, together with the heritage of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, according to Shen Yun. Form, on the other hand, refers to the techniques and methods expressed externally.
Meanwhile, her husband Wandalowski, a retired financial advisor, said he enjoyed seeing the philosophy and spiritual aspects of the performance. He said the performance depicted a clear theme of showing people “how to act and how to be.”
He said the performance reminds people to treat others well, be respectful of others, and do good things. He said that “if you do that, then you have an opportunity to return wherever you feel like you came from.”
Shen Yun performances also showcase themes like spiritual devotion, the benevolence of gods, good and evil retribution, and the search for the meaning of life.
These themes also appear in stories set in the modern day, like Falun Gong-related dance stories and lyrics. Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is guided by the principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.”
This practice was widely popular in China as it helped people understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture—which includes Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist schools of thought. Many of Shen Yun’s performers also practice Falun Gong.
Wandalowski added that the message of the performance is “trying to do the best you can in humanity.”
“Having some belief in humankind and believing in, if you believe that there is, that you came from heaven. Just do all those things, then you can return to where you came from,” he said.
With reporting by Sherry Dong and Janita Kan.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.