CHICAGO—“You don’t get to see this everyday,” said pharmacist Mahera Abbas about the performance she’d just seen of Shen Yun Performing Arts New York company on April 24 at the Civic Opera House.
“I really liked the show; it was good experiencing the Chinese culture,” Ms. Abbas said of the New York-based Shen Yun.
Through dance and music, Shen Yun shares China’s “ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens,” according to its website.
These time-honored values are exactly what Ms. Abbas enjoyed about the show. She liked the songs for the meaning of the lyrics which emphasized the spiritual over worldly values. “It was a learning experience as well, like a life learning experience,” she said.
Shen Yun “had good lessons, like I said—life is not about material things, it is about spiritual things, so focus more on that. Also one of the dances said that good gets rewarded and evil gets punished, that was a good lesson [The Opening of Heaven’s Gates]."
Ms. Abbas believed that children should see this show because “it is a cultural experience as well as a life lesson.”
Attending with Ms. Abbas was her mother, Shamim Shamshuddin, who agreed with her daughter, saying, the songs that are meant to teach us: “You should also think about religious values; everything is not materialistic.”
Both mother and daughter were interested in the piece that showed China and its relationship to faith today.
Ms. Shamshuddin was surprised that even today certain books in China are forbidden.
The life lesson for Ms. Shamshuddin was that “we should be happy with what we have and not be greedy to get everything in life. There are other people who are so suppressed and don’t get what we have.”
“Because we have so much freedom to practice religion in America—I never knew that in China, they were so strict that you could not have some kinds of books in your possession and even today they still practice that if you have that particular book they would come to your home and take it away and punish you for that,” Ms. Abbas said.
“I came to the show expecting that it would be full of music and dancing and that’s it. I didn’t expect them to have life lessons for their audience as well. By life lessons I mean positive lessons, not brain washing lessons. It was a really good experience,” she said.
Ms. Abbas would highly recommend the show to her colleagues and friends.
Reporting by Valerie Avore and Sharon Kilarski
Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will continue with shows in Los Angeles at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium from April 28-30. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org