NEW YORK—It’s been a long time since Mr. Richard Urfer, a veteran investment banker, and his wife Cynthia visited China. It was in 1979 when he advised the Carter administration on foreign investments.
They took advantage of a chance to—in a sense—to revisit the country Wednesday night, when Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage of Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater in Manhattan.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, aims to revive traditional Chinese culture “through the universal language of music and dance” presenting 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, according to its website.
But Shen Yun’s performance presented a very different China from the one that Mr. and Mrs. Urfer remembered.
“The things that I’d always seen before were very stylized and stiff,” Mrs. Urfer said. “Here there is much more fluidity, really a joy in dancing … A freedom, which we didn’t see 30 years ago.”
“There is even more flow in this than even in western ballet,” Mr. Urfer noted. “To a certain extent more beautiful.”
Shen Yun specializes in classical Chinese dance, an art form with a history of thousands of years. It not only places emphasis on the form of the dance, but also on the expression of its inner meaning.
It was “the spirit with which they performed” as well as “a grace and an easiness,” of the performance that made an impression on Mrs. Urfer.
A Holiday Present
Weeks ago Mrs. Millie Elias noticed Shen Yun would be performing. So she “dropped a subtle hint” to her husband that perhaps tickets would be a suitable holiday present.
Mr. Harry Elias, the husband and owner of a marketing consulting company, indeed picked up the hint.
Wonderful, fascinating, very entertaining–that’s how Mrs. Elias characterized the performance.
“There’s also great blend of both style and athleticism,” Mr. Elias said. He noted the show was very energetic, “It makes you very calm when you’re watching.”
Anthem to The Human Spirit
Mr. Ross Wisdom, a partner of Kimberling & Wisdom accounting firm, had been curious about China’s heritage.
“I was just so impressed with the costumes and the dance,” he said after the performance. “I feel like it’s an anthem of the human spirit. It just sort of wanted to reach across humanity for a big hug.”
Classical Chinese dance possesses the power of storytelling. Some of Shen Yun’s dance pieces depict historic tales or legends. Mr. Wisdom found they conveyed ultimately the prevailing human spirit.
“But you also had great guardian figures coming to the rescue,” he noted, mentioning a dance story inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, where a mighty Monkey King protects a Buddhist monk on his journey to bring Buddhist scriptures from India to China.
“I loved that one,” Mr. Wisdom said.
Reporting by Tracey Zhu and Petr Svab
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.