MINNEAPOLIS—Gretchen Hansen described a dance from Shen Yun Performing Arts in which the dancers held up a banner that read “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance”: “Those are the components of living a happy, conscious life,” she said.
“Without cultivating those things, it’s very easy to get wrapped up into what’s not important,” she added. “So it was lovely to see that highlighted in this production.”
The dance that Ms. Hansen found compelling exemplifies the New York-based Shen Yun’s mission—to revitalize 5,000 of divinely inspired Chinese culture, through both its arts and its values.
“The costuming, the precision—I loved the story line they gave going from ancient China all the way to the present,” she said.
These values and traditions have been all but lost under communist rule, according to the company’s website. It was the thought of such a loss that touched Ms. Hansen.
In that dance, a mother and her daughter were being persecuted for their spiritual beliefs, a situation actually occurring in China today.
“We could feel the wheels turning in people’s heads as we were watching that dance in particular,” said Ms. Hansen, a business analyst at Avanade, Inc.
She attended the performance at the Orpheum Theater, on Feb. 15 with Frank Farrah and his wife, Anne. Mr. Farrah is a retired policeman and Anne, a fitness professional.
“It was an excellent performance—the costumes and the choreography were beautiful,” said Mr. Farrah. “I recommend it to everyone to see great Chinese culture.”
“The costuming is spectacular, and the performance is just flawless,” Ms. Farrah added. “It really is lovely. We really enjoy coming down because we know how hard they work, what they put into it, and it’s fun to see them share that with us.”
Shen Yun performs a variety of dances, some folk dances and others classical Chinese dance. The latter tell of ancient legends and stories of today, like the one Ms. Hansen described.
Interspersed between the dances are songs performed in Chinese by classically trained vocalists. The translated lyrics of these songs are projected on a backdrop behind the singers.
“I saw a lot of similarities in the messages in the songs that were sung, in the lyrics of the songs about connecting the spirit, between heaven and earth, and you know, turning away from the delusion and not allowing things that are distracting and things that are upsetting or evil [to get in the way]. And knowing that you are a spiritual being that came from heaven,” Ms. Hansen said. “That was just a beautiful thing throughout the production.”
Ms. Hansen just finished writing a book “about reclaiming choice and awakening peace and power from within.”
She related a moment where she felt touched by the lyrics. “The first song that the tenor sang where he was talking about Truth and showing the way. I forget the specifics of the lyrics, but I was imagining the people in China feeling this way, not having the freedom to express that. It brought tears to my eyes. I had a Chinese woman sitting next to me and I felt her reach out … it was very touching,” she said.
Ms. Hansen seemed to think that the performance not only allowed people to reach out, but to reflect within. “I think that they were having a mirror presented to them that they were looking into and reflecting on their own lives hopefully.”
Reporting by Valerie Avore 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.
The 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.