Retired Philanthropist: Shen Yun is Just Marvelous

March 21, 2017 Updated: March 21, 2017

PHOENIX, Ariz.—Glen Felner, a retired life insurance company owner, and his wife Bonnie Felner, a retired figure skater and teacher, attended Shen Yun Performing Arts for the first time at the Orpheum Theatre on March 18. They said it definitely would not be their last.

“I’m just amazed,” said Mr. Felner. “I’m so happy that we were able to see it.”

“I wanted to see this show for years,” said Ms. Felner. “It’s absolutely wonderful.”

Mr. Felner is not only a successful businessman. He is a World War II veteran with a Bronze Star Medal, and he was the Honorary Consul General to the Republic of Rwanda for 20 years. 

He also used to pilot his own airplane, and he is an avid animal lover who donated $1 million to the PAWS Chicago animal adoption organization in 2015. The PAWS location was renamed the Glenn L. Felner North Shore Adoption Center in his honor.

Mr. Felner has also been to China many times, and he said it was a shame Shen Yun cannot be seen there today.

“It’s just marvelous,” he said of the performance. “And the story behind it is amazing.” 

Founded in New York in 2006, Shen Yun is the only large-scale, authentic Chinese music and dance experience based on 5000 years of traditional Chinese culture, which was nearly lost during communist rule.

A Shen Yun performance includes spectacular classical Chinese dance, a live full orchestra with both Eastern and Western instruments, vibrant and interactive backdrops, dazzling costumes, and musical soloists.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Ms. Felner. “The dancing is beautiful.” 

With her background, Ms. Felner especially enjoyed seeing the young artists’ athletic abilities, and it made her long for her youth.

“I’d love to go back up on stage,” she said.

Shen Yun reminded Ms. Felner of skating as a child and how the movement seemed to carry her to another world.

“They’re doing that again to me,” she said. “It’s beautiful, bringing me back to being a child again. Just a very blissful world, very calming.” 

A Shen Yun performance features a series of dance vignettes that each tell a story, and two bilingual emcees introduce the audience to the premise behind the story.

Mr. and Ms. Felner were fascinated by the ability of the dancers to interact with the backdrop. One moment a dancer would leap behind the stage, and the next moment that dancer appeared to fly into the air.

“I’ve never, ever seen that before,” said Mr. Felner. 

Mr. and Ms. Felner are traveling to Taipei in June, and Ms. Felner said she would probably look at the culture a little bit different after seeing Shen Yun.

“It is a beautiful culture,” said Mr. Felner.

The couple said last year they were prevented from coming to Shen Yun because of an accident, but this year they were lucky enough to get tickets.

“I don’t think there’s anything I don’t love,” said Ms. Felner of the performance. “I think it’s all beautifully done and choreographed. I can’t imagine how many people are involved with making this [happen] every night.”

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