SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Raymond Anderson just had to see Shen Yun, he said, and now that he has, he says it’s a show everyone must see at least once in their lifetime.
The technician and retired military man said that the classical Chinese dance and music performance “really, really impressed” him. He was amazed the performance was perfect, and felt everything—every costume, every scene, every dance—was magical.
Of the approximately 17 dances in the two-hour presentation, the dances that impressed him the most were those depicting what he termed a “cultured battle” between China’s traditional past and the current communist regime that for decades has tried to destroy that earlier culture.
“Those dances were just really strong,” Mr. Anderson said. “At first there was harmony, and once [the communists forces] came in there was tension, and then there was success afterwards,” he said.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts relies on classical Chinese dance to reveal the ideals of China’s millennia-old history, from the culture’s creation story through to modern times.
Ultimately, what the communists have been fighting since taking power, are the spiritual underpinnings of a culture enriched by Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucianist beliefs.
“The message they were putting out—I distinctly remember it—was we are all from heaven. We are just here on earth seeking salvation to find our way back home. That was really deep. I will remember that. Yes,” he said.
Mr. Anderson saw the performance in Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium, on Feb. 24. Also attending were Mrs. Guffy and her college-aged sons, both enrolled at Lincoln Lake Community College, who shared their thoughts with a reporter after the performance.
The elder brother, Stewart, who made the Vice President’s List for his grade point last spring, thought the most important thing he learned from the performance was how much the Chinese value their cultural heritage and history.
Despite the communist party repression, which has tried to snuff out traditional culture, the people still care about the art and history and want to keep it alive.
“I think it’s a good message that they are taking to the rest of the world, since it’s not allowed to be performed into China,” he said.
Miles, studying graphic design, found the last dance, “Hope for the Future,” really interesting. It tells a story of spiritual repression in China today.
“I … thought it was really cool that they stood up for their beliefs and their values. … I thought that was really interesting how the whole dance was all about kind of sticking up for your beliefs no matter what, and I am a firm believer in that, so I thought that was super cool,” he said.
Both of the brothers said they had never seen anything like this performance and remarked on several of the artistic aspects.
Miles found intriguing the interactive elements which showed animated figures often flying through the air and then once on the ground reappearing as the dancers.
“I liked the fact that they put a visual effect in the art, in with the dancing. I thought—I am an art student, … and I study graphics—and so I thought the way that they put the two together really made it for an unique experience,” he said.
In fact, the whole idea of the animated interaction with the stage movement, which brought out the meaning without vocal expressions “let the audience piece some things together themselves,” he said.
Stewart commented on the visual aspects of the performance, too, by mentioning the effect of the costumes on the whole performance: “I think [in] just the way that they utilized the colors of the wardrobe that you could change the whole atmosphere and the whole color of the entire auditorium by just the way people would turn or open their sleeves,” was remarkable.
As Mr. Anderson said, the show was awesome. “I recommend everybody come and see the show. I’ll see it somewhere again too,” he said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Sharon Kilarski
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.
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.