SAN ANTONIO, Texas—If art can be defined as a message well delivered, then Shen Yun makes great art, audience members at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts said after a performance on Aug. 7.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is a New York-based company that tours over 150 major cities each year.
Its mission and message are both simple and grand: That the 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese history is worth preserving given the Chinese communist regime’s attempts to eradicate it. Its method of delivery: Live performances of classical Chinese dance accompanied by a live orchestra.
Airforce Captain Gabriel Ventura and his date Hope Goddard found both to be exceptional.
“The performance was fantastic, the dancing was incredible,” Mr. Ventura said.
Ms. Goddard agreed. “Yes, we loved it. I thought everything was great. The music, the dancing, everything was incredible.”
Each year, Shen Yun brings to life vignettes of Chinese culture through the universal language of music and dance.
Classical Chinese dance consists of a series of difficult flips, turns, and poses that have been passed down through thousands of years. Shen Yun performers, each trained in New York, are considered the premier practitioners of classical Chinese dance today.
Mr. Ventura was impressed by the athleticism throughout the performance.
“I think the twirls, the jumps, all of that requires so much out of the performers … the flips, the twirls, the music timed all together, it was really, honestly spectacular,” he said.
Saving the Culture
During the performance, emcees noted that Shen Yun performances cannot be seen in China due to the communist regime’s effort to uproot traditional culture.
“I think it’s very tragic,” Mr. Ventura said. “I think that happens, broadly, too much in too many different cultures and societies. And I think that it’s very precious that [Shen Yun has] been able to rescue some of that, and then actually share that with everybody else.”
Ms. Goddard said that Shen Yun was “able to share stories that we wouldn’t normally hear.”
“I thought it was really, really valuable,” she said.
When CPAs Carol and Gary Gill bought their tickets, they assumed that a Chinese cultural performance would be from China, so they were surprised upon learning that Shen Yun is based in the United States. Part of the reason is that in China, many of the performers who practice the spiritual exercise Falun Dafa would be persecuted for their faith, and imprisoned and tortured for speaking about it. Shen Yun brings this tragic reality to light.
“As an American, I’m all for what they’re saying, so it’s great. The show itself is beautiful,” Mr. Gill said.
As Catholics, the Gills appreciated Shen Yun’s message of faith and hope.
“I just love the religious aspect of it,” Mrs. Gill said. “You know, in this country, we don’t proclaim our religion very publicly and it was so nice to see it there on the screen.”
Mr. Gill noted that in addition to persecuting practitioners of Falun Dafa, “communists destroyed the Catholic faith, they’re still doing it in China.”
Small business owner Kevin Knight found himself captivated by the variety and visual richness of the program.
“I think it’s wonderful. You get a glimpse of another culture and their costumes,” he said. “Now, I will probably be here next year because I heard the show is completely different every year.”
Shen Yun’s pieces show moments of Chinese history up to the present day.
Unfortunately, part of China’s current affairs is the communist regime’s practice of harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience, many of whom are imprisoned for their faith. In one of the pieces, Shen Yun shines a light on this reality.
“It’s really terrible that takes place in China and I think it’s good that it’s being exposed because maybe the more exposure it gets, then China gets pressured to stop that practice,” Knight said.
Robert Miller, a graphic artist and communication designer, said he appreciated Shen Yun bringing spirituality on stage.
He said the performance captured “how universal the adoration of God is—the importance of belief and faith, and the freedom to believe and have faith in what you care to have faith in.”
Reporting by Epoch Times Staff and NTD Television.