ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Frank Fitzgerald has traveled to China several times, but he learned about China in a new way watching Shen Yun Performing Arts Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Mahaffey Theater at the Duke Energy Center for the Arts.
Mr. Fitzgerald called Shen Yun “an eye-opener.” He attended the show with friend and math teacher Olena Spridgeon. He is owner of a lighting company.
Shen Yun performs classical Chinese dance and music. Through dance, the performers present short vignettes from Chinese history and from contemporary China. An orchestra that blends Western and Chinese musical traditions accompanies the performance.
One dance in particular, The Steadfast Lotus, stood out for Mr. Fitzgerald. The dance depicts people in China practicing Falun Gong, the traditional meditation discipline.
“What struck me the most was the scene about the mother and daughter in the park.” In that dance, a mother presents her daughter with a banner decorated with a lotus flower. The banner has three words: “Truth, Compassion, Tolerance,” the central tenets of Falun Gong.
The peaceful moment is upended when Communist Party police show up and drag the mother away. The performance depicts present-day stories of Chinese families ripped apart by the regime’s ongoing persecution of Falun Gong.
“I thought that was an eye-opener and something that here we don’t ever think about,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.
He said he appreciated that the performance wasn’t just putting on a show, but that it informed—”telling the story from the reality point of view.”
“More people ought to understand what’s happening,” he said.
Mr. Fitzgerald added that he would recommend the performance, “especially for anyone who has an open mind and wants to learn or understand what is going on around the world.”
Alongside stories of present-day China, Shen Yun’s dances present important historical and literary figures of China. Learning about traditional Chinese culture was also part of the experience for Mr. Fitzgerald and Ms. Spridgeon.
Ms. Spridgeon said that through the dance and the imagery, she saw traditional culture is “in harmony with the spiritual.” She said the performance helped her understand what is valued in traditional Chinese culture and that people’s lives are “surrounded with a lot of spirituality.”
On top of learning about the culture, Ms. Spridgeon said she was impressed by the dancers’ skill level. “Very well-synchronized” she said of the dancers. “I can see a lot of hours of exercise and practice behind every dance movement.”
Reporting by Edie Bassen and Nicholas Zifcak
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.