Retired Principal Gives Shen Yun an A-Plus

April 15, 2016

COSTA MESA, Calif.—Charles Stevens, retired high school principal, attended Shen Yun Performing Arts on Thursday at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and gave the performance an A-plus.

“It’s superb,” said Mr. Stevens. “It’s a nice way to be introduced to a Chinese dance and art form.”

He came to Shen Yun with his friend Chick Curtis, also a retired educator. The two men said they worked together for many years.

Mr. Curtis said he liked the performance “very, very much.”

“I love the color, I love the movement. I love how the stories [are] told with dance,” he said.

Shen Yun Performing Arts’ creators and artists hold a sincere dedication to the highest quality of music and dance production and a mission of reviving the traditional art forms and values of China’s 5,000-year divinely-inspired culture. The non-profit was established ten years ago to bring the authentic culture to the world.

A performance focuses on classical Chinese dance, an independent and ancient art form that’s known for its gentle elegance, as well as the flips and spins now used in modern gymnastics and acrobatics. Each dance features original costuming, story lines, orchestral arrangements, and vibrant backdrops showcasing the stunning landscapes of present, ancient, and mythical China.

Mr. Stevens said the educational value of Shen Yun is very high, and both men very much enjoyed the cultural elements of the performance.

“I love dance,” said Mr. Curtis. “I love culture, and I welcome anything from China … I love to read about it. It’s really beautiful to see a performance showing the culture.”

Mr. Curtis also said he passed his passion onto his son, who studies Shaolin Kung Fu.

The men appreciated Shen Yun’s unique East-meets-West orchestra, with traditional Chinese instruments incorporated into a full, live orchestra. Mr. Stevens said the dancers were fantastic, and said the interactive backdrop, which added an extra dimension to the stage, was very clever.

They also took note of the modern historical portion of the performance, which mention the persecution of spiritual groups in China today, such as the meditation practice Falun Gong, also know as Falun Dafa

“I felt inspired by it and touched by the struggles of the people,” said Mr. Stevens. The men were at first surprised that Shen Yun can’t be seen in China, but after discussing the issue, they were not so surprised.

“I don’t think the communist government of China would welcome something very spiritual,” said Mr. Curtis. He said spirituality, something central to the traditional culture, wasn’t “very orderly and compliant” with the goals of the atheist government.

Mr. Curtis felt interested to learn more about the meditation practice and Chinese history, while Mr. Stevens encouraged others to come see Shen Yun, saying it’s a “must-see.”

“We’re just glad to be here and to be a part of it and experience it,” said Mr. Stevens.

A Universal Message Full of Love

Marlyn Smith after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Sergerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on the afternoon of April 14. (Marie-Paul Baixu/Epoch Times)
Marlyn Smith after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Sergerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on the afternoon of April 14. (Marie-Paul Baixu/Epoch Times)

Marilyn Smith, a retired executive assistant to a college president, was also in Shen Yun’s audience.

“Absolutely beautiful and meaningful,” she said. “For me personally, it’s a universal message, and it’s full of love.”

Ms. Smith said she even adored the lovely faces of the performers.

“Each one looks like they have a divine grace coming through,” she said.

A Shen Yun performance includes a number of soloist singers, whose Chinese lyrics are projected in both Chinese and English on the backdrop of the stage. As they sang impassioned words of faith and belief in the divine, these singers’ voices and words touched Ms. Smith deeply.

“The hope, the beauty, the belief that we’re incarnated, and we are improving for heaven, I love it,” she said.

Ms. Smith was also strongly affected by the depiction of the persecution of Falun Dafa.

“Just realizing that today even some as innocent and pure and personal as that could be not allowed,” she said, was heartbreaking.

However, other pieces, such as a Mongolian dance vignette, were full of such hope and joy, she said.

She thanked the organizers of the event for coming to Orange County and very much recommended others to see Shen Yun.

Reporting by Michael Ye, Marie-Paul Baixu, and Sarah Le

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.

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.

Costa Mesa, United States
Shen Yun New York Company