PORTLAND, Ore.—The world of martial arts and that of classical dance are not that dissimilar. Perhaps it was this aspect that attracted Ms. Kim Caminschi to see the Shen Yun performance at the Keller Auditorium on April 14.
Ms. Caminschi, a retail supervisor, also happens to be the former world champion Korean American boxer and kickboxer. She was recently named commissioner of the International Female Boxing Association (IFBA).
Ms. Caminschi liked the traditional aspects of the performance and felt that it conveyed the “good spirit of the Chinese culture” and that “it was a beautiful event.”
An athlete ever since high-school, Ms. Caminschi played volleyball, softball, tennis and gymnastics, but she is no stranger to dance and music, also learning ballet and piano, according to the Women Boxing Archive Network website. Later she studied Tae-Kwon-Do for seven years, and eventually pursued two successful ring careers, the first as a world champion kickboxer, and the second as a world champion professional boxer. This month marks 14 years almost to the day since Ms. Caminschi announced her retirement from competitive boxing on April 13, 2002.
The Shen Yun performance was a time for her to relax and enjoy herself as a spectator, but also a time to reflect.
Ms. Caminschi mentioned the values portrayed in Shen Yun saying: “I think that having a [high] standard of moral beliefs is always very good—knowing right from wrong. I think it’s always great to have a basis to go from and blend the tradition with the modern world.”
Part of the mission of the world-famous performance company is to revive traditional Chinese culture which is rooted in spiritual beliefs. This thread runs through the orchestra music, the dance narratives, as well as the Chinese songs performed in the bel canto technique.
“I think that the singing was very beautiful—the opera style. The sopranos were beautiful, very touching,” said Ms. Caminschi, adding, “and then, of course whenever they have the stories of the struggles of the Chinese people, that was always very touching too.”
She was referring to the narrative dances portraying the modern day struggles for freedom of belief and expression in China.
She also mentioned that the “Drums of the Grasslands” dance was “very upbeat and exciting.”
Apart from showcasing classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun also encompasses ethnic and folk dance. In the dance mentioned by Ms. Caminschi, a group of Mongolian horsemen, each carrying thin-skinned paddle drums, take to the plains in a lively celebration, with movements that evoke images of flying eagles and wild stallions.
Overall, Ms. Caminschi found the performance to be “very beautiful and cultural, but also enlightening to get a glimpse into another world.” The experience left her optimistic that Chinese people will overcome their current hardships [under the communist regime] as they look to the future.
Shen Yun ‘Magnificent, Stupendous, Prophetic,’ Says Musician
“Magnificent. Stupendous. Not to be missed, definitely not to be missed,” exclaimed musician Kristin Schmidt after the Shen Yun performance on April 14.
“It’s hard to describe in words, but it was very prophetic, very beautiful. And, without words, the stories just came to life, and the dancing, the colors, the pictures that were painted by the dancers with the music, of course, in the background was just beautiful, just beautiful,” she said.
By coincidence Ms. Schmidt had met a member of the orchestra who told her about the performance.
The orchestra member mentioned that by “watching the show and more so listening to it, we, the audience in America, get a sense of real history in China.”
Ms. Schmidt was very intrigued by the traditional Chinese instruments, mentioning the pipa and the erhu, that are part of a Western style orchestra.
On the company’s website the pipa, or Chinese lute, is described the “king” of Chinese folk instruments, reigning as such for thousands of years, but it’s also a divine instrument that can often be seen depicted in traditional paintings in the hands of heavenly maidens. The pipa’s construction reflects the three powers—heaven, the earth, and man, and the five elements—metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. Meanwhile, the four strings represent the four seasons.
The erhu is described as one of the most important Chinese instruments, with a history of over 4,000 years. Although it has only two strings, it can convey a wide range of emotions. Its sound is unmistakably Chinese, being able to evoke China’s history and the emotions of its people.
“It would be great to hear more of that kind of music publicly in America. The education someone can get from listening [and] watching the whole show, as an American about China, is very illuminating,” she said.
One of the dances that particularly appealed to Ms. Schmidt was “Fairies of the Sea” which depicts the delicate dance of fairy maidens with long silk fans and soft blue skirts swirling to the rhythm of the cerulean waters. Ancient Chinese legends tell that they are only visible visible to the pure of heart.
On a different note, Ms. Schmidt expressed her regret that while people all over the world can watch Shen Yun, people in China cannot.
“It’s very tragic that the Chinese are not allowed to watch this in China. But that says a lot, doesn’t it, about how powerful and moving the music is and the whole performance,” said Ms. Schmidt, while also pointing out that it is equally valuable for Americans to find out about the repression of spiritual beliefs in China.
She ended on a hopeful note, and a thought that this thought must be at the forefront for all Shen Yun performers—the wish to one day perform in mainland China.
“Wouldn’t that be a great day for the Chinese people and for everyone?” said Ms. Schmidt.
Reporting by Da Ji Yuan and Kati Vereshaka
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.
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.