“It is stunning, from start to finish. They are very disciplined,” Mr. Gray said of Shen Yun. “We do kapahaka [Maori performing arts] so we understand the discipline of the performance,” he said.
And this performance, he said, “is absolutely just spot on. It was absolutely stunning.”
Mr. Gray bought tickets a couple of months ago as he wanted to introduce his granddaughter, who’s part Chinese, to her Chinese heritage.
“She was blown away from the start,” Mr. Gray said in the foyer of the St. James Theatre, Feb. 17.
Shen Yun’s website says, “Sophisticated dance techniques, an orchestra joining instruments from both the East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning back drop—this is Shen Yun at first glance.
“But digging deeper, one discovers a sea of traditional Chinese culture. Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one.
“Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience.
“Originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, these ideals are the essence of traditional Chinese culture.”
Mr. Gray could identify with the entire production but found the discipline of the Shen Yun artists to be particularly amazing.
“The way the performers … are organised on stage, knowing their places. That’s very much Maori, because Maori are very disciplined when they do Kapa Haka. The difference is that, [these dancers are] very soft and light on their feet, whereas the Maori are very loud with their feet,” he said.
However, the elegance of the Shen Yun dancers on stage was something else again.
“It’s beautiful to watch, absolutely stunning,” he said. “And the women are very delicate. The way they move. Beautiful, beautiful—Absolutely beautiful.”
He hopes more Maori would come to see the performance, because they could also identify with the spiritual core within the ancient stories … like the story of creation.
“It’s hard to explain but we have stories in Maori that are very, very similar to what [Shen Yun] did here tonight. I wish I could sit here and tell you—but it’ll take a long time, to be honest.”
Shen Yun’s mini-dramatic pieces draw upon stories and legends that span China’s history from the Yellow Emperor and through the Tang and Song dynasties and all the way to the modern times, the website says.
A unique feature of Chinese civilization is that its history has been documented and passed down uninterrupted for 5,000 years, sometimes in vivid detail.
“This provides Shen Yun with vast source material, making it possible to revive this ancient culture on a present-day stage.
Mr. Gray, as a Maori, also identified with the spiritual essence woven throughout the Shen Yun production.
“Very much so, very, very much so,” he kept repeating.
He hoped that the Shen Yun production would return again next year, and as a member of the New Zealand Maori Council, he will promote the classical Chinese dance and music company nationally.
The New Zealand Maori Council is a political platform providing Maori a voice to express their opinions to government.
Reporting by Jamie Qiu and Raiatea Tahana-Reese
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.