Seeing Shen Yun, NYU Professor and Family Find Ancient Chinese Culture in New York

January 19, 2014

NEW YORK—Gabor Jozsef, a professor at New York University’s Department of Physics, hails from Hungary and has seen dance performances from Russia, France, Japan, and more. But his first time seeing classical Chinese dance was Saturday night at Lincoln Center, when Shen Yun Performing Arts graced the stage.

The presentation of 5,000 years of Chinese culture by New York-based Shen Yun caught Mr. Jozsef’s attention. He said he enjoyed the stories told in the performance.

Classical Chinese dance is one of the best dance systems for depicting the legends and tales from the ancient culture on stage, with its wide range of movements, gestures, and jumping and tumbling techniques that all convey meaning. 

And there are many stories to tell.

“Most cultures have their own creation myths—in Western civilization, the Book of Genesis and Homer’s epic poems, for example.” The Chinese, too, have legends depicting the culture’s divine origins,” explains Shen Yun’s website. “This mythology continued to grow throughout the generations, creating incredibly rich folklore. Stories and legends are commonly scattered amongst many different sources which, when put together, reveal a tapestry extensive and brimming with details.”

“It was very nice,” said Mr. Jozsef. “I really liked the storytelling part.”

Mr. Jozsef was joined by his wife Eva, a math teacher, and his daughter Kristina, an architect at Urban Edition Architecture.

“It was something different and bright and colorful and just so lively. It was beautiful,” said Ms. Kristina Jozsef.

When she was younger, she did gymnastics and ballet, giving her special insight into the complexity of the movements the dancers execute with stunning ease.

“They just make it look so easy,” she said.

The digital backdrop that changes with each dance at times turn interactive—performers seemingly jump back and forth between the stage and the animated scene in a display of modern technology and superb stage production.

“I … like the visual graphics in the background and how the characters would … jump behind and then you see them turn into an animated character,” said Ms. Kristina Joszef. “It was very fun and lively.”

Mrs. Eva Jozsef described the performance as amazing.

“And it’s a different culture, even the music is different and the dance language is different. It’s so amazing that you come here and you don’t have to go all the way to China,” she said.

The ancient culture was nearly lost to mankind after decades of destruction in the communist-ruled country, but Shen Yun was able to revive it and presents it on stages around the world. 

“Forcing atheism upon society, the Chinese Communist Party has for decades launched various campaigns—most notably the Cultural Revolution—to destroy not only cultural sites, temples, and relics, but also the Chinese people’s belief in virtue and faith in the divine,” Shen Yun’s website explains.

“Today, on the surface, the Chinese Communist Party claims to be reviving traditional Chinese culture. But no matter how its efforts are framed, they are ineffectual. For the Chinese Communist Party removes the cultural essence of respect for the divine, thereby extracting the heart and soul of traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun seeks to revive these virtues the world over.”

“You can’t see it in China. It’s so important to keep traditions alive. So it is very sad,” said Ms. Kristina Jozsef. “It’s important to the world, to a functioning society, you need art, culture, and music.”

She added that mere words could not encapsulate the performance.

“You have to see it,” she said. “Words, you can’t really put it into words.”

Reporting by Pamela Tsai and Zachary Stieber

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.

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.

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Shen Yun New York Company