WASHINGTON—Retired Rear Admiral Tom Marfiak saw the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Jan. 28.
Mr. Marfiak said “it was a really remarkable performance. It was wonderful to see the dance and the culture of China… the wonderful dancing and music, of course. Extraordinary!”
Mr. Marfiak is Senior Associate at Burdeshaw Associates. “I graduated from The Fletcher school [Tufts University—The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy] in 76 and again in 77. They were going to keep me there until I got it right.” Highly educated and a world traveler, he savored the originality and meaning of the performance.
Shen Yun uses projected backdrops depicting Chinese landscapes and heavenly realms which interact with the performers. Mr. Marfiak appreciated the innovation. He said, “It's just a technical detail. I thought the way that the backdrops work, digital backdrop. That can only be possible in the 21st century,” he said.
“The creativity involved. Particularly the opening sequence, going through the galaxies, as they say in Star Wars, many years ago … That's very effective use of technology… A big thumbs up on that one. I liked it a lot, super good.”
He humbly said that he felt he really did not understand Chinese culture, even though he has visited China many times and has worked with his Chinese counterparts to educate young Chinese leaders. He said he thought the New York based Shen Yun “represents the Chinese values and culture very well.”
Mr. Marfiak said that he thought most Americans have very little idea of other cultures and he felt “it's important for all of us to be aware of the other cultures.”
He said he felt that Shen Yun had made many contributions to Western society, particularly by giving a sense of universality.
One was, “Shen Yun shows that the music and the dance are contemporaneous across cultures. The energy of youth, the excitement of dancing and so on is a global experience. Secondly … We have these common interests that we can work out together. I think it does a great job of conveying that.”
Shen Yun brings China’s 5,000 years of culture to the stage through ancient legends, modern stories, and folk dances. It also has solo singing and instrumental performances.
Mr. Marfiak “particularly appreciated having the actual grand piano for the accompaniment of the singers.”
He said, “the dancers were really incredible. Extraordinary.”
He said liked every dance, found the Tang dynasty dancers elegant, and enjoyed the way “the Manchurian dancers, the story of the plum blossom that blooms even in the winter time despite all the difficulties it's in, it brings its color to our life.”
Mr. Marfiak, CEO and Publisher at the US Naval Institute, a former strike group commander with the navy for 37 years, attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, Harvard, and the Institute of Political Studies in Paris.
With reporting by Jin Pang and Leigh Smith.
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will be performing in Washington, D.C., at The Kennedy Center Opera House through to Jan. 30. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org