Photographer Inspired by Shen Yun to Keep Trying New Things

February 13, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Today is Mary Ann Thomas’s 80th birthday and her daughter Kimberly Vandenberg helped mark the event with tickets to see Shen Yun Performing Arts.

Established in 2006 in New York, Shen Yun sets out to revive 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, in particular the spirituality that was rooted in ancient China’s divinely inspired culture, according to the company website

Ms. Vandenberg and her mother saw Shen Yun on stage at the DeVos Performance Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

“It just inspires you to try something new and that’s what I try to do with my students—try to push them to their boundaries and out of their boxes, and that is what it is all about being a teacher,” Ms. Vandenberg said, who sets up after school program for pupils from Grade 1 to 5.

“And expand them,” Mrs. Thomas added. She was also an educator before retiring.

Ms. VanderBerg has a passion for the arts and was especially struck by the cultural diversity of the Shen Yun presentation.

“It was very colorful and very technical, it was done very well. I enjoyed it,” she said.

“Sophisticated classical Chinese dance techniques, an orchestra joining instruments from both the East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop—this is Shen Yun at first glance,” explains the Shen Yun website.

“It was very impressionable, very upbeat, different, and very unusual ways of making noises and music,” she said about the orchestra and associated sound effects. “A nice little plethora of different variety would tweak some of their imagination. I thought it was very well done.”

Ms. Vandenberg attended the Center of Creative Studies in Detroit and co-chaired the Festival 2012 for the city of Grand Rapids. She is a competitive artist for regional art shows and enjoys seeing all the new arts that come to her city.

“I enjoy the arts very much and my mom and I always come to support the cultural arts and [we’re] very involved in my community in the arts.”

In fact, Ms. Vandenberg and her mum supports all arts, particularly those that are different such as Shen Yun, which she considers is “multicultural.”

“It opens our mind to different countries and what they represent. Little secrets and treasures that you don’t get to see every day in America,” Ms. Vandenberg said.

She especially enjoyed the story dances Lotus Fairies symbolizing purity, and Lantern Joy, a celebration of the Chinese New Year.

“The Lotus flower dance was absolutely beautiful and the lantern dance … very feminine the lotus flower dance. I enjoyed that.”

Each Shen Yun dance, whether set in the past or in contemporary China, embodies traditional Chinese values. Ideals of loyalty, filial piety, and veneration for the divine are cherished and celebrated, according to the website.

Ms. Vandenberg found herself intrigued by the array of colors, line, and design.

Her mother was of like mind. Mrs. Thomas was also impressed by the colors, the form and precision.

“The motions and the footwork, they did that fast little shuffle,” said Mrs. Thomas. “[They] have talent. It was beautiful, you can’t get that anywhere else, not in life.”

Mrs. Thomas was also impressed with the Shen Yun Orchestra

Reporting by Valerie Avore 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.

Grand Rapids, United States
Shen Yun World Company