HOUSTON—Businessman and philanthropist George Strake Jr. and his wife, Annette Strake, have watched Shen Yun Performing Arts every year for the past six years.
“It does get better every year. These young people are just marvelous,” George said.
The couple attended the performance with their daughter, Shelley, and her friend, Gina, at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in Houston, Texas, on Dec. 28.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, the premier classical Chinese dance company, seeks to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through music and dance. The New York-based company recently commenced its 2019 tour that will see six equal-sized groups traveling to more than 100 cities around the world.
George Strake Jr. has had a distinguished career as a politician, businessman, and philanthropist. He previously served as Texas Secretary of State after building his name in the oil and gas industry. He is president of the Strake Foundation, a charity that supports Catholic education in schools, and is involved in a range of charities and and community groups.
George had nothing but praise for the performance.
“It’s awesome,” he said.
“The whole thing is just so professionally done and so meaningful and so effective.”
George and Annette have been seeing the show every year around this time, which roughly coincides with their wedding anniversary. In the new year, the couple will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
Annette said they keep coming back because they love watching the performance.
“It’s one of the most beautiful, amazing things I have ever seen,” she said.
She said she was touched by the beauty and truth conveyed by the performers.
“It comes across and makes your heart happy,” Annette said.
The word “Shen Yun” means “the beauty of divine beings dancing.” The company seeks to portrays this beauty through classical Chinese dance, as well as traditional ethnic and folk dances form China’s 50-plus ethnic groups. At the same time, Shen Yun aims to present the essence of China’s rich and far-reaching culture through the medium of this art form.
In traditional Chinese culture, people believed in the divine or heaven. China itself was called “Shen Zhou” or divine land. People believed that they should live in harmony with heaven and earth, and improvement of moral character was key to achieving this. Such concepts can be found in Chinese lore and records passed down over millennia. Shen Yun presents these stories on stage, connecting a modern audience with ancient values and ideas.
Annette was particularly impressed by the dancers’ gliding movements across the stage. She said she didn’t know how they do it.
“It’s like gliding from heaven,” she said.
Shen Yun performers, many of whom are award-winning dancers, are classically trained artists who excel in traditional Chinese dance forms, including classical Chinese dance. This dance system is itself a jewel of Chinese culture, a craft refined over thousands of years. Alongside ballet, it is one of the most complex and rigorous dance forms in the world.
This year the Strakes brought their daughter, Shelley, who was watching Shen Yun Performing Arts for the first time. Like her parents, Shelley was blown away by the performance.
“It’s the best I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Shelley said the show was filled with meaning behind every movement and story. She added that couldn’t wait to come back next year.
“It just makes you appreciate your life so much.”
With reporting by Diane Gao and Cathy He.
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.