SAN FRANCISCO—As teachers of martial arts, Alyssa Engel and Zachary Simons were amazed when they saw Shen Yun’s performance of classical Chinese dance, which has many elements similar to Chinese martial arts.
Ms. Engel has studied tae kwon do for 17 years and taught it for seven years. She said she loved Shen Yun and found it “absolutely amazing.”
“The dancing was amazing,” Ms. Engel said. “I don’t know how they get that kind of footwork in there; it’s crazy!”
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has toured the world for eight years with the mission to revive 5,000 years of ancient Chinese culture through dance and music. According to Shen Yun’s website, “Chinese dance is at the heart of what Shen Yun does. Known for its incredible flips and spins, and its gentle elegance, it is one of the most rigorous and expressive art forms in the world.”
Ms. Engel and Mr. Simons attended the performance at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco on Jan. 11.
Mr. Simons, who has studied Chinese martial arts for 13 years, noticed that some of Shen Yun’s dance techniques were very familiar.
“It captured the push-pull element of the tai chi very well,” he said, referring to the dance piece Tai Chi Flow.
In Tai Chi Flow, according to Shen Yun’s program, “tai chi movements temper strength with grace, force with gentleness. Dancers wielding Chinese fans embody these contrasting principles in a finely woven tapestry.”
“I thought that it was very inspiring. It had a lot of energy,” Mr. Simons said. “You could feel it up in the crowd. It was wonderful.”
Ms. Engel said, “I don’t know much about Chinese martial arts. My focus is mostly Korean martial arts, but I thought it was absolutely inspiring.”
“It made me want to learn to do those kinds of things to incorporate into my martial arts,” she added. “Tae kwon do is more rigid, whereas Chinese martial arts are far more fluid and are able to carry through the motions. Like [Zachary] said, the push-pull element is really there, and it’s less rigid. It’s just so fluid all the time; it’s absolutely amazing. It’s like water.”
According to the Shen Yun website, “Chinese martial arts and classical Chinese dance can be thought of as twins conceived 5,000 years ago by the earliest progenitors of Chinese culture. Although spawned from the same roots, these siblings with vastly contrasting personalities served very different purposes.”
Each Shen Yun performance is a visual wonder of synchronized dances and brightly colored costumes accompanied by a live orchestra. Many of the dances tell stories and legends from traditional Chinese culture.
“I thought it was fabulous,” said Mr. Simons. “I thought it was wonderful. I really enjoyed it.”
Reporting by Lily Yu and Sally Appert
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.