COSTA MESA, Calif.—On a beautiful afternoon of April 17, Shen Yun Performing Arts, the world’s premier dance and music company, graced the stage of an auditorium filled with enthusiastic theatergoers at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
In attendance were Mr. Phil Rulloda, his wife Catherine, and their Chinese friend, Phan Shu Lai.
“It’s wonderful, amazing. It’s just beautiful—the costumes, the stories. I even wrote this one quote down: ‘You came to the world for this today.’ It touched my heart,” Mr. Rulloda gushed after watching the first half of the performance. “I’m so excited to be here.”
Mr. Rulloda is an international award-winning floral designer, teacher, and author. He is the owner and head instructor at the Phil Rulloda California School of Floral Design, rated as the top and oldest floral design school in the U.S.
He had received numerous national and global first place awards, and was the first inductee into the Arizona Floriculture Hall of Fame. He has appeared nationally and internationally as a featured speaker. He was invited to the White House for Christmas decorating, and as a visitor to many foreign countries at the invitation of Heads of State. He designed for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, and has assisted float companies that participated in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Based in New York, the independent, nonprofit Shen Yun Performing Arts was founded in 2006 by a group of leading classical Chinese artists from around the world to revive traditional Chinese culture, and to share it with the world through storytelling dance and music.
Through 20 vignettes, audience members are taken on a journey through China’s culture and beliefs, where myths and legends come to life, and virtues such as bravery, compassion, kindness, loyalty, and perseverance are personified.
Mrs. Rulloda said, “Wonderful. It’s so breathtaking. The colors, the dance, the stories are richly told, beautiful.” Her friend, Ms. Phan, shared similar feelings.
Mrs. Rulloda is also an accomplished florist, who owns Avante Gardens Florist and teaches at the Phil Rulloda California School of Floral Design.
Her accomplishments include top honors from numerous floral design competitions, international recognition of her floral designs during the 1984 Olympic Games, a featured presenter and designer for more than 300 industry events in the US, Canada, Mexico and Japan. Her work has appeared in numerous publications.
Mrs. Rulloda appreciated the storytelling depicted in the performance. She said, “I’m really delighted that the stories aren’t all sweetness and light. There’s tension, there’s sadness and happiness, so it isn’t just all fluffy. There’s strong storytelling and strong emotion, and I applaud the storytelling here.”
The story-based dance and music performance delighted as well as touched Mr. Rulloda: “I love the stories very much … They touch your heart,” he said.
For thousands of years, China was known as the “Divine Land” (Shen Zhou), and the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism were the heart of the culture. It was believed that the arts were given to humankind as a way to bring some of the divine to earth. But this culture has nearly been destroyed under the Chinese communist rule.
Mr. Rulloda has a deep love of traditional Chinese culture because of the association with the Chinese people during his childhood. He said, “I read a lot of different poetry, and of course I know many different poems by Confucius and Lao Zi. I have made Chinese garments that I wear in my classroom.”
He was moved by the spirituality of traditional Chinese culture conveyed in the performance.
“I love the backdrops. It’s just like you’re right there—It’s like the heavens are opened up and everyone’s here,” Mr. Rulloda said. “It just makes my heart feel very strong.”
Floral design is visual art. Being floral designers, both Mr. and Mrs. Rulloda were enthralled, and impressed by Shen Yun’s artistry, and by all aspects of the performance.
A Shen Yun performance includes classical, folk, and ethnic dances, accompanied by digital interactive backdrops and a unique live orchestra combining Chinese and Western instruments. Additionally, there are bel canto singers sung in Chinese and instrumentalists interspersed throughout the performance. All of this is enriched by the brilliant colors and textures of the 400 original, handmade costumes.
“It is just really magical. It’s wonderful,” said Mr. Rulloda.
He said he would share his inspiration, concepts, and ideas derived from Shen Yun’s performance with students when traveling all over the country and around the world to teach.
With much enthusiasm, Mr. Rulloda said that as soon as he leaves the theater, he will get on Twitter and Facebook to encourage everyone to see Shen Yun, because it’s life-enhancing, and very enriching.
Mr. Rulloda summarized his experience with Shen Yun: “The program is a magical journey of the heart.”
Reporting by Jana Li and Thanh Le
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.