Mayors and company presidents treat tens of staff members to the performance in parties as large as a hundred. Stalwart fans attend year after year, to even multiple performances, with binoculars at the ready. The performances are incredibly layered, and there is always more to see.
People come from Mainland China to get a glimpse of the authentic traditional Chinese culture through the arts, because at home New York-based Shen Yun is only ever available on a limited run of DVDs labeled contraband.
This year in Taoyuan City, Taiwan, Ms. Uma Viswanathan was among the curious and inspired theatergoers. She attended with a party of eight who had flown from India to Taiwan for the sole purpose of seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts, as the global tour did not extend to India.
“It was wonderful, and it actually took us to another world,” Ms. Uma Viswanathan said. “We felt very enthralled, and it was actually a very divine experience that we had.”
Emcees introduce each of the 20 vignettes—many of them story-based dances of myths and legends and the present day, ethnic and folk dances, or musical soloists—to give the audience some background.
During each performance, Ms. Viswanathan said she was basically in a meditative state. And when each piece ended and the emcees came out to introduce the next glimpse into ancient China, her thoughts would turn to all the children she works with, and how she wished to share the experience with them.
Bringing Peace and Joy
Ms. Viswanathan is the head of projects at the NalandaWay Foundation, an organization that focuses on helping marginalized young girls with arts-based rehabilitation programs.
Some of the children she works with are orphans, or come from extreme poverty, or illness or conflict-stricken areas. It was her wish to be able to bring some of these girls, most barely teenagers, some as young as 7, with her next year.
“Because this sort of peace in the performance … the negativity is not there. There’s a lot of positivity,” she said. “Children are generally positive, but because of their environment they suffer.”
“But if we can give them a positive environment, a peaceful environment, a happy environment, I think they will blossom into beautiful flowers.”
The performance would also show them the virtues of kindness and teamwork, Ms. Viswanathan said.
The classical Chinese dance and ethnic and folk dances performed by Shen Yun largely include several people on stage at a time, performing tumbling feats and elegant movements in complete unison.
“There’s a lot of strength in team performances,” Ms. Viswanathan said, and for children to learn together and dance together, they are then able to draw strength from each other.
One of the most striking programs for her was “Handkerchiefs,” where the female dancers threw sparkling pink handkerchiefs into the air, caught, and spun them with great dexterity, playfulness, and accuracy.
“It’s very difficult to balance something as fragile as a handkerchief,” she said. Here, too, she was thinking of what her children could learn—focus. You get distracted for even one moment, and the spinning handkerchief would fall, she explained. It is difficult to focus and also work in a team, synchronizing with everyone, being aware of others.
“Teenagers have a lot of energy, and they start depending on their friends rather than their parents at that time. So when they are in a group like this, they will learn positive things. They will peaceful. Just by watching it, and performing it as well,” she said.
A Different World
Ms. Viswanathan felt transported beyond Taiwan—she felt she was taken to “a different world completely.”
“It suddenly feels divine,” she said.
Standing in an elegant sari, made of pure silk and meant to show respect, Ms. Viswanathan said nationalities fall by the wayside in the face of art like this. China was once known as the Divine Land, and she felt the alignment of the energy from the performance made the auditorium feel as such.
She wanted to thank the artistic director of Shen Yun for creating what he has, and for bringing people of all nationalities together. “He’s doing an amazing job, making so many people happy and feel peaceful at the same time.”
She said she wouldn’t mind making that 2,600 mile trip again.
“I don’t think the distance matters; so looking forward to next year,” she said. “If I can bring some children with me, I’ll be blessed.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Liyuan, and Catherine Yang
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.