MELBOURNE, Australia—As someone who was born and raised in Europe James Somerville loves football, but also has a love of music and dance which brought him to Shen Yun’s matinee performance at the Regent Theatre for the first time.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts is the premier classical Chinese dance and music company, with a mission to revive China’s traditional culture and share it with the world.
“It’s a magnificent eye-opener—it’s very colorful, the movement is very good and it tells a story,” Somerville said after enjoying a Shen Yun performance on Feb. 16.
Somerville, as one of the founders and company director of Smile Ville, understands that for many people English is not their first language, so his company employs dentists who speak at least five other languages, including Mandarin.
Shen Yun took Somerville on a journey through five millennia of traditional Chinese history with its myths, legends, and ancient culture, shared mainly through classical Chinese dance and ethnic dances. Together with an interactive backdrop, it was all seamlessly complemented with original music performed by a unique orchestra of Chinese and Western instruments.
Somerville found China’s history very interesting, well displayed and articulated through dance. He said how great it is to see Shen Yun dancers “tell us different stories through dance and movement. So it’s very fascinating to see the history and the culture and different beliefs and faith that kept them through different phases of Chinese history.”
Somerville noted that in many of the Shen Yun dance-based stories the characters show reverence for the divine.
“The way they’ve displayed their creation and their Creator and how they define it is very interesting, and the way they displayed this is very holy and good, ” he said.
For thousands of years, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism were at the heart of Chinese society. Shen Yun dancers follow China’s ancient tradition and practice meditation, and this spiritual practice Falun Dafa motivates them to excel in their art.
Although Somerville follows a different belief he acknowledged the spirituality in the Shen Yun artists’ performance and found it “very interesting to see the other aspects of their beliefs and their backgrounds, and how strongly they do believe in it—it’s good to see it—it’s different and very engaging,” he said.
Somerville resonated with both the humor and the sadness on display in a dance story based on true events from contemporary China, with people getting lost in technology and showing how badly the communist regime is treating those who hold onto traditional Chinese values.
As spiritual expression is not allowed today in communist China, he appreciated the courage and hope the dancers portrayed “with the oppression, where people were being held back from what they believed in. But then the strength at the end to carry on through—they were happy and it was all about belief and faith that kept them strong, ” he explained.
Somerville said he intended to tell his friends that in a Shen Yun performance, “The artists paint a marvellous picture of Chinese history.”
With reporting from NTD Television.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.