COSTA MESA, Calif.—Mayor of Los Alamitos Warren Kusumoto enjoyed journeying through China’s 5,000 years of civilization and history when he experienced New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts on April 25. The diversity of the culture and the performance’s portrayal of mystical places in China were something Kusumoto was delighted to see.
“It’s just very wonderful. I think the diversity of the culture in China is just really amazing,” said Kusumoto, who saw the traditional dance and music performance at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Through about 20 vignettes of dance, music, and stories, audience members are able to get a glimpse into aspects of Chinese history, experience popular stories right before their eyes, and listen to touching songs with their souls.
Kusumoto praised all the elements of the performance, from the dancing, music, to the 3-D animated backdrop, which complemented each other and enhanced the viewing experience.
“Very appealing. A lot to see, a lot of things happening all at once,” he said.
The Californian mayor said he was particularly moved by a piece about the persecution of Falun Gong.
“I think the second to the last one [before intermission], where the young lady was put in prison and then brought out with the mother and then restored to good health by divine intervention,” he said. “I thought that was really touching and really interesting.”
Shen Yun portrays stories that draw inspiration from myths and legends, historical episodes, and modern real-life events. Among them include real-life human rights abuses happening under the current Chinese communist regime like the persecution of Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa, teaches the principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance,” where adherents seek to orient themselves toward self-betterment, taking responsibility, and putting others first.
But the Chinese regime launched a nationwide crackdown on the practice in 1999 and has since continued to systematically persecute Falun Gong adherents in China. People who are caught practicing the discipline in China face severe persecution, including torture, imprisonment, and even death.
These stories portray themes like spiritual devotion, the benevolence of gods, good and evil retribution, and the search for the meaning of life, according to the company’s website. Such values are foundational to traditional Chinese culture and are not political in nature. Instead, they aim to encourage audience members to reflect upon themselves and the world around them.
For Kusumoto, the story made him reflect on the freedoms seen in the United States that cannot be experienced in China.
“I guess the cultural diversity of the Chinese had been repressed with the current regime, and … it’s nice that they can recapture here and grow in the free world in the United States,” he said. “They really want to just express themselves and it’s really a shame they cannot.”
Overall, the Kusumoto said Shen Yun was a “mind-opening” experience that had inspired him to explore more deeply into the culture.
“I think certainly reviving culture … 5,000 years in the past is certainly something we want to capture because [of], again, the diversity of this planet [and] the people on it. So I think it’s great. I commend Shen Yun for doing that—for preserving the culture,” he said.
With reporting by NTD Television.
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.