BERKELEY, Calif.– “I am enjoying this on many levels, both intellectually and just from the experience of being here, said Ruthann Friedland, at the Tuesday, January 6, performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Berkeley Zellerbach Hall. “It brings a different consciousness to the people.”
Ms. Friedland is a retired teacher and spends free time tutoring at Cherryland Elementary School.
Having toured many areas in China, Ms. Friedland has her own appreciation for traditional Chinese culture. Among them, she said were “the Hmong people in the mountains,” whom she visited during her time in China.
Dances from the many different ethnic groups in China have always been a staple of the annual Shen Yun performances. Dances from the Miao ethnic group—who are related to the Hmong—have often been features in past years’ performances.
Unique to the Miao people are their traditional attire. According to the Shen Yun website, “Miao women drape themselves in ornate silver headdresses, necklaces, and bracelets. They are covered—literally from head to toe—with bells and charms that swing and jingle with the slightest motion. Dancers move to accompanying drumbeats, and the strong sense of rhythm increases the speed and strength of the dancing, creating a jubilant mood.”
Previously, Ms. Friedland had often visited China while working in Thailand for two years, and recently went back to visit China. She found Shen Yun to be a treat for both people who are new to traditional Chinese culture and those like herself, who have had some exposure to it.
“I think the knowledge of the history, knowing where they are coming from, it’s so rich a performance,” said Ms. Friedland. Not only is it beautiful but it explains the culture. That’s what I will tell my friends, it has to be shared with the world.”
Like in Thailand, Buddhist thought has had a great impact on China’s culture. According to the Shen Yun website, “In 67 C.E., Buddhism reached China from ancient India. Its focus on personal salvation and meditation had a profound effect on Chinese culture, lasting until today.”
Ever since the 1960s, China’s Communist Party has systematically sought to extinguish the influence of Buddhist and Confucian thought as well as traditional Chinese culture in the mainstream society. However, today the heart to uphold the positive values of traditional Chinese culture is maintained by Shen Yun Performing Arts, based out of New York.
Their dedication can be felt in the operatic singing performances included in every show. “It makes you want to cry when you hear the words to the song of the singer because it is absolutely true; it is so profound,” said Ms. Friedland. “This is such a visual beauty and hearing, seeing … your senses are just imploded.”
Reporting by Jennifer Liang and Miles Segni
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.