LAS VEGAS—”You will enjoy the art form, the beautiful costumes, the elegant dancers, the athleticism, the discipline, and the passion—everything. Honestly, it’s a complete package,” said Catherine Unger after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts World Company March 4 at Reynolds Hall in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Mrs. Unger, who supervises teachers specializing in speech pathology in Clark County School District, attended the sold-out performance with her husband.
While standing in the grand, marble-floored foyer of Reynolds Hall, she appeared calm, yet in a state of elation. Words seemed to fall short of describing her feelings.
“Sometimes you want to say ‘thank you’ and you just wish that would really encompass what you feel,” Mrs. Unger said when asked what she would like to tell Shen Yun’s performers. “But I do say ‘thank you’ to you, and please continue what you are doing, and thank you for your energy and doing what you do every day,” she added.
Shen Yun is a non-profit, New York-based, classical Chinese dance and music company that seeks to revive the beauty and richness of traditional Chinese culture through performing arts.
Every performance includes the world’s foremost, classically trained dancers, a one-of-a-kind orchestra that seamlessly combines classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments, and a digital, animated backdrop that “infinitely expands and transforms the stage,” according the Shen Yun’s website.
The majority of the approximately 20 vignettes in each performance include classical Chinese dance as well as ethnic and folk dances that give audiences a glimpse into Chinese culture, from myths and legends to modern day stories of courage.
Mrs. Unger said she enjoyed the story-based dances and the range of emotions conveyed. “It was fun to see the dance be so serious and also be very playful,” she said.
One piece that particularly touched her heart was a dance entitled Sleeves of Grace, in which the dancers’ long, silk sleeves are used as a prop.
“I thought that was absolutely beautiful—very graceful,” she said. “It’s very evident that they are incredibly disciplined and also passionate about their art.” She added that the dancers seem full of love while they perform.
China was once known as Shen Zhou, the Divine Land, where deities and mortals coexisted, and Chinese culture was believed to be a gift from the heavens.
Mrs. Unger enjoyed this aspect of Shen Yun.
“Spirituality is universal, I think. It transcends any culture or person,” she said. “The dance was very evident—the way they all move in harmony—that spirituality and harmony are so intertwined.”
Shen Yun has become a global phenomenon, receiving critical acclaim throughout five continents; however, it cannot be seen in China, where traditional values have been spurned for decades by the communist regime.
“I wish that in their own country, they might have the opportunity to see it because it’s actually so inspiring. I just can’t see anything that would impede the joy of just watching it and enjoying it,” said Mrs. Unger.
‘Sound quality was fantastic’
Also among the audience members of the sold out performance March 4 was Ted Pethes, a musician who plays woodwind instruments, and his mother, Nancy Blackstone.
“It was beautiful,” Mr. Pethes said. “The sound quality was fantastic.”
He was even inspired to compose music with the traditional Chinese instruments he heard, especially the erhu, a two-stringed instrument with a history of 4,000 years.
“The exhibition of some of the local instruments was really nice. I’m going to score a few of those instruments to see if I can learn to play them,” he said.
He enjoyed how the music in various dance pieces conveyed a variety of emotions.
“I had a real wide range of emotional kind of feelings associated with the music and with the dancing,” he said. “I remember specifically one song where I just felt a sense of overwhelming calm and peace. … There was [also] a lot of excitement and just a lot of emotion in the show, so I liked it.”
Mrs. Blackstone enjoyed the themes in the story-based dances about good and evil, and how good always prevails. “We have to keep fighting for the good. Those were very nice messages,” she said.
Mr. Pethes said he plans on recommending Shen Yun to his friends in Texas, where Shen Yun will perform later this month.
Reporting by Jenny Liu and Albert Roman
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.