NEWARK—First-time audience members of Shen Yun Brian Johnson, senior analyst, and Evelyn Guillen, childcare worker, were taken aback by the majesty of what was unfolding before their eyes.
“When the curtain first opened, I know for me I was emotional because it was so beautiful,” Guillen said.
“I’ve never experience anything like this before.”
“But it was so beautiful and it was magical.”
Johnson was similarly blown away by the performance.
“I’ve always been interested in Chinese culture but seeing the dancers and experiencing the culture that way, it really impacted my heart and my soul,” he said.
“It was a very defining moment.”
“I will never forget this. Never forget this.”
The pair saw the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance for the first time at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on April 27.
The New York-based classical Chinese dance company was founded with a mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. In its two-hour-long program, the company takes the audience on a journey through Chinese history through various dance vignettes, musical soloists, and dance-based stories.
Johnson, who works at Con Edison, said the pair had seen many performances, but Shen Yun stood out in its own league.
“The quality is A+++. We’ve seen many shows, we been to many events and this was the top of the list, without a doubt,” he said.
The dancing combined with the live orchestra was unforgettable, Johnson added.
“I wish I could go back and see it again. It was top quality,” he said.
The spiritual element of the performance also touched Johnson, who said he was drawn to the performance’s message.
“We connected very well with the message they were displaying,” he said.
“Its about being good people, about cultivating oneself and giving on to others, and being there for others.”
“I think anybody who, spiritual or not spiritual, should see this. I think it would definitely help people connect more to their spiritual self.”
Traditional Chinese culture is underpinned by a belief in the divine, reflected in the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, which have permeated all aspects of Chinese thought and behavior over thousands of years. Such traditions continued uninterrupted in China up until the Chinese communist regime seized power some seven decades ago, and managed to systematically destroy traditional ideas and beliefs in a series of political campaigns culminating in the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s.
Johnson said he appreciated Shen Yun’s mission to revive this lost culture, adding that he himself learned a lot about Chinese civilization from the performance.
“I think it is a clever and beautiful way in trying to keeping the culture alive, especially in the face of communism,” he said.
“I didn’t realize that communist China was trying to oppress the history of Chinese culture so much until I saw this. So its very eye-opening.
“I learned a lot without anybody speaking— just the dancers and the message, I learned a lot. I really did.”
With reporting by Wei Yong.
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.