Philosophy Major Appreciates Cultural and Ideological Aspects of Shen Yun

April 9, 2011 Updated: April 10, 2011

SAN JOSE, Calif.—A standing ovation ended the Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company's matinee performance on April 9 at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, where Larry Webb attended with his wife.

It was, said Mr. Webb, “an amazing show. The costumes and choreography are outstanding. Very, very nice.”

Another aspect of Shen Yun's unique performance also touched home for the couple. “My wife and I formally had a company that hosted international students from San Jose state … so we encountered Asian students from all over the world,” Mr. Webb explained. “I travel to China myself.” The show “was a great opportunity to come and witness some of the culture.” He appreciated the narration by emcees, Jared and Kelly, which helped explain what the audience was seeing, especially for those who were unfamiliar with some of the cultural aspects presented.

Shen Yun's mission is to revive traditional culture through performing arts, and its shows most notably accomplish this mission through classical Chinese dance, vocal soloists, and orchestral music. The stage's backdrop also incorporates digital images that set the scene and interact with the dancers on the stage. Mr. Webb noted that it “is amazing the way they intertwine the dancers with the background.”

A number of pieces treat various aspects of spirituality, religion, and the stories derived from them. For instance, in Little Mischievous Monks, young Buddhist monks find ways to have fun amidst their religious devotion. And the opening piece tells the legend of heavenly beings who follow the Creator to become leaders of the Earth's people.

Several others address the persecution of the spiritual practice known as Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party. Mr. Webb, who has a degree in philosophy and follows Buddhism “as a way of life,” said that the depiction of “the persecution of Falun Gong … is inspiring.” In one, Our Story, a well-loved teacher is persecuted to death for her adherence to the practice, but the piece ends with a miraculous scene. In another, No Regrets, a mother loses her son to the persecution, but is comforted by her beliefs.

Reporting by Jim Li and Beth Lambert.

Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform one more show at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, Sun. April 10, and then Kansas City, Missouri, on April 13. For more information please visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org