WASHINGTON D.C.—”Having this type of entertainment available to the public … uplifts society,” said Paul Quinn about Shen Yun Performing Arts after seeing the matinee at the Kennedy Center Opera House on April 18.
“I love the music, I love the visuals, and the timing, and the costumes … It’s astounding, it takes your breath away,” said Mr. Quinn, an engineer who worked at MIT before coming to the capital to work on the nation’s air traffic control system.
He said that the feeling Shen Yun left him with was what he’d hoped for when he came.
“That’s what we quietly hope for, something that’s going to make a positive adjustment,” he said.
“I thought it was spectacular,” said his longtime friend, Nancy Wright. A teacher, Ms. Wright said she was glad to see so many children in the audience, which showed that Shen Yun “transcends all generations.”
She was also impressed with the athleticism of the dancers and history she learned from the show.
Shen Yun is a classical Chinese dance company based in New York. Its mission is to revive China’s 5,000 years of traditional culture.
Performances include ethnic and folk dances from regions around China and classical Chinese dance mini-dramas that retell ancient myths, stories from classic literature, and tales from contemporary China.
A highlight of the performance for more than one audience member was the Tibetan ethnic dance, Snow-Capped Celebration.
Explaining just how real the experience was for her, Annie Landers, who saw the matinee, Sunday, April 19, said,”That one just made you feel cold like you … wanted a cup of cocoa or something.”
Mrs. Landers, a nurse from Tampa, Florida, said she had never seen anything like Shen Yun. She found the performance intriguing and compelling, and said she had learned things about the Chinese culture that she would not have otherwise.
The traditional Chinese concept that music is medicine for the body and soul, was one idea that resonated with her. This concept summed up her experience of the performance.
“It fills all your senses—sight, sound, feeling,” she said.
Her friend, Francoise LeBlanc, who surprised Mrs. Landers with tickets, said she was impressed with the invariably perfect timing of the performers as they appeared and disappeared into the state-of-the-art animated backdrop.
“They time it exactly … and that was really good,” said Ms. LeBlanc, who works in security for the State Department.
Several other audience members also enjoyed the interactive backdrop.
“The screen in the background I thought was amazing, how they would disappear into it and pop back out,” said Yvonne Creighton, an art teacher.
Virginia Hodgkins, who has taught dance for 20 years, was impressed with the skill of the dancers.
“I really appreciated the dancing, and the fact that they were perfect with timing. Everything, all the movements were exactly the same, their precision was perfect. It’s an amazing, beautiful show,” she said.
Made in the USA
Many audience members are surprised to learn that Shen Yun is not from China and has never been allowed to perform there.
Shen Yun’s website explains that “The company’s mission is to use performing arts to revive the essence of Chinese culture—traditionally considered a divinely inspired civilization. Since the [Chinese Communist Party,] CCP is officially an atheist regime, it is afraid of the freedom of expression this arts company enjoys in the West.”
“The mere representation of this lost heritage and its virtues immediately, by way of contrast, unmasks the Party and its ideology of struggle.
“It’s nice that this country will allow them here and they’re in other places all around the world,” Ms. LeBlanc said, referring to the fact that Shen Yun’s four companies tour the globe each year.
One powerful idea that the CCP fears is expressed in one of the dances. In fact, this piece, “The Power of Compassion,” particularly moved some audience members. Based on true events, it shows the kindness of practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Dafa toward a policeman who is injured while trying to arrest them.
The principles of Falun Dafa are truth, compassion, and tolerance. The CCP has persecuted the practice since 1999.
“I was surprised they had that [piece],” Ms. Creighton said. “I thought that was a good message and it broadened my ideas about China … I was glad that was included. I thought that was good.”
“The choreography with the music on that [piece] Compassion I thought was just great,” said Susan Good, a French teacher from Anapolis.
Angel Gaston, an Asian studies student who plans to become a Mandarin-English interpreter and teacher, was surprised that in all her studies and travel to China, she had never heard of Falun Dafa.
She said Shen Yun was amazing.
“I would describe it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … I would definitely describe it as amazing and … [that] words can’t describe how wonderful it was.”
Additional reporting by Xiao Xu
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