BALTIMORE—Pastor Herb Watson and his wife, Rochelle, saw the world a little differently after seeing the Shen Yun Performing Arts portrayal of ancient China on Jan. 18.
“I really enjoyed it,” Mr. Watson said during intermission at Baltimore’s Lyric Opera House. “It’s touching … it’s been a blessing,” he said.
Through the New York-based presentation, Mr. Watson found a sense of purpose from a new perspective.
“Where we come from and our principles for living—yes, just to see it played out in dance. It’s just ‘feeling and seeing’ it from a different aspect, in terms of the dance and everything,” he said.
Mr. Watson is the lead pastor of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Baltimore, and accompanied by his wife, was in attendance of the classical Chinese dance and music company, with their granddaughter.
He praised the hi-tech technology with its vivid scenes extending the stage and transporting the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one.
Mr. Watson enjoyed the interaction of the performance, costumes and music, beautifully choreographed to move seamlessly between stage and screen. He was also glad of the subtitles, which translated the Chinese lyrics of the songs sung bel-canto style into English.
“The singing was about the [spiritual] experience, and how we understand life and understand our relationship to God from a different aspect,” Mr. Watson said.
Mr. Watson ministers to around 400 to 450 parishioners, he said.
Jokingly he said, “I’m the head pastor. I’m in charge,” He laughed out loud when he said, “No, she’s definitely in charge (referencing his wife).”
On a serious note, Mr. Watson emphasized that through technology, the world was growing smaller and said productions like Shen Yun allowed humanity from a cultural perspective to understand where things have been and where they’re going.
“It’s good to get a better understanding of different cultures, of the long history of the Chinese culture, the foundations of it, and not just what’s happening now, but understanding what has happened before, and how things have come to be as they are [now],” he said.
Mrs. Watson was impressed by the synchronization of classical Chinese dance and music depicting Chinese civilization’s history that has been documented and passed down in myths and legends uninterrupted for 5,000 years.
This provides Shen Yun with a vast source of material, making it possible to revive this ancient culture on a present-day stage in a series of mini dramas.
“My granddaughter was asking [about] the one where the mother died,” Mrs. Watson said. “And she said, ‘Did she die?’ And I said yes, because they’re not allowed to practice spiritual experiences in China.”
The dance, The Steadfast Lotus, is about a mother and daughter who practice the spiritual meditation discipline Falun Gong. According to the program book, the two were enjoying a peaceful moment together, and the mother gives her daughter a beautiful banner decorated with a lotus flower. But the moment is shattered when Communist Party police arrive to take the mother away, and is tortured to death.
“I feel very fortunate that in this country I can express my faith, that we are fortunate, and I think we take for granted that we’re able to openly express our faith,” Mrs. Watson said.
She hoped mankind would never forget the past and think about how history could affect this generation and the next.
“We need to care, we need to learn to accept each other for who we are, like you’re talking to me. You’re an Asian woman, I’m an African-American woman just learning to share our experiences [and] who we are. We’re not that different, we’re all human beings on this earth,” she said.
“Our traditions might be different, appreciating diversity, not being afraid to talk to someone who’s different from me, looks different from me, different culture–I think that’s what I’m getting out of this [performance],” she concluded.
Reporting by Jane Pang and Raiatea Tahana-Reese
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.
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.