WASHINGTON, D.C.—China’s modern history is marred with strife, and its ancient history largely only a vague impression of myths and legends to many. But at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Feb. 17, Shen Yun Performing Arts brought out the glory and splendor of the ages through music and dance.
Sarah Gotbaum and her good friend Carol Bennett care deeply about the freedom of peoples and about the history of China, so they were more than pleasantly surprised to see what New York-based Shen Yun was all about. They knew about Chinese culture, and were delighted to see that it was the authentic traditional Chinese culture presented on stage.
Ms. Bennett, now 91-years-old, was a social worker and activist, who had been demonstrating for freedom and human rights since the Spanish Civil War. She was influential in helping Jimmy Carter find women to be in judges as well, her friend Ms. Gotbaum explained. And more recently, about a decade ago, Ms. Bennett was in China for an international women’s conference. She enjoyed the beauty of the scenery and felt compassion for the people.
She didn’t expect, seeing as China is still under atheist communist rule that opposes its traditional culture, that the production she was going to see with a friend would show that traditional culture.
“It was wonderful,” Ms. Bennett said. It was a relaxing experience, and she said she felt privileged to see it—“privileged to have been exposed to this.”
Through “fantastic skills,” Shen Yun brought stories of China’s 5,000 years to a diverse audience in a way everyone could understand. “I’ve not been exposed to such skills. They were marvelous.”
Ms. Gotbaum felt similarly. “I love the idea of having the history of the country come alive in dance,” she said.
Ms. Gotbaum used to work for the Alabama Radio Network, and covered the Tiananmen Square events in China in the 1980s. That had been “a heartbreaking moment in history,” she said, and “I cared very much about what happened.”
She was appreciative that the modern history of China was addressed as well. In Shen Yun’s stories, there is ultimately hope, and the good receive a good ending.
The dancers had used their bodies and their faces to breathe life into characters from China’s storied history in a very expressive manner. Ms. Gotbaum explained that her vision is somewhat limited, yet the expressiveness of the dance told the stories.
It was perfect, she said. “The colors were beautiful, the motions were beautiful.” Everyone moved together, she said, and with such grace.
Reporting by Jenny Jing 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.