‘It’s all just spectacular,’ Says Notre Dame History Professor About Shen Yun

February 7, 2014

DETROIT—“This is our first Shen Yun here, and we’re loving it so far,” said Doug Reed about the first half of the Shen Yun Performing Arts World Company performance at the Detroit Opera House. The company brings 5,000 years of China’s divinely inspired civilization to life on stage.

Mr. Reed, a builder for a family-owned construction company, and his wife Catherine Cangany, a University of Notre Dame colonial American history professor, attended Detroit’s opening performance on Feb. 6.

Shen Yun’s mission is to revive a vanishing, ancient culture and its virtues through the performing arts—a culture that was almost destroyed by communist rule, according to the Shen Yun website. Being based out of New York, however, Shen Yun has the freedom to bring China’s traditional values and culture to the public in its grandest glory.

“It’s wonderful,” Ms. Cangany said. “The colors, the dancing, the choreography, the music—it’s all just spectacular. We’re enjoying it tremendously.”

“I’ve enjoyed it all. It’s been really spectacular,” said Mr. Reed. “The athleticism that the dancers have, it’s just wonderful.”

Ms. Cangany was particularly touched by the dance The Steadfast Lotus, which depicts a modern Chinese family torn apart due to the persecution of their faith. Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline rooted in ancient Chinese culture that teaches living by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. It has been persecuted in China since 1999.

“I would say the one about the Falun Gong practitioners was very moving,” Ms. Cangany said. “The oppression, the inability for them to practice their [faith] … and the athleticism and the expressions of the dancers were quite moving—in addition to the actual story itself.”

Her husband agreed and said the piece gave him food for thought. “The story itself, for me, it just gets you thinking because most people don’t think about what’s going on over there [in China]. I don’t, and I haven’t, and for something like that [persecution], it just brings it to mind again which I think is important … to know about the oppression.”

Each Shen Yun performance includes at least 20 presentations of classical Chinese music and dance. Many of these are story-based dances, which dramatically portray legendary stories and heroes from China’s past and present.

“We don’t have 5,000 years of culture in the United States for most of us, certainly for Anglo-Americans to draw on, and we both gained a much richer appreciation for traditional Chinese culture because of Shen Yun,” said Ms. Cangany.

“I agree. I think she hit the nail on the head right there,” replied her husband.

Reporting by Charlie Lu and Cat Rooney

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org

The 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.


Detroit, United States
Shen Yun World Company