GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Starting in 2006, Shen Yun has performed in cities across Florida, but Dec. 30 marked the New York-based company’s first performance in Gainesville. A full house welcomed the dance company.
Shen Yun tells Chinese legends and historical tales through classical Chinese dance. A full orchestra as well as Chinese instruments accompany the dancers.
Jack and Amy Joy brought three of their children to see Shen Yun at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts: Matthew, Daniel, and Mary Grace.
Mrs. Joy previously worked in advertising and marketing for American Express and MasterCard in Latin America. She now home-schools their children.
When Mrs. Joy heard about Shen Yun, she immediately spoke to her family. She said she knew they had to go.
The Joy family had much praise for Shen Yun: the dancing, the choreography, the music, the stories, the deeper content of the program, and the larger composition.
“It exceeded everything I could have hoped for,” Mrs. Joy said.
Daughter Mary Grace also enjoyed Shen Yun—”a great performance, and everyone did so well.” “It was so beautiful. I loved every bit of it.”
A Moving Experience
Watching Shen Yun was a moving experience for Mrs. Joy. In fact, she brought tissue for everyone in the family, expecting they all would cry at some point.
But it wasn’t all tears.
“I loved … the funny, humorous pieces,” Mrs. Joy said. “I loved the flying in and out of the screen,” she said, referring to the animated digital backdrop, which appeared to extend the stage. “I loved the dance with the sleeves [Sleeves of Grace]. I loved how powerful the male dancers were.”
The “male dances were so strong and gripping, and the female dancing was so perfectly balanced—so manly and so feminine and classy, very classy,” she said.
According to its website, Shen Yun aims to revive the values and glory of 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.
Mr. Joy, a senior partner at Walton, Lantaff, Schroeder & Carson, said he also enjoyed the dancing. The choreography especially impressed him: “The dancers were completely in tune with the orchestra—all the little beats and all the little measures. It was absolutely fantastic.”
A number of Shen Yun programs employ large-scale dances that fill the stage. The dancers’ movements are highly coordinated and synchronous.
He said Shen Yun was “just absolutely beautiful.” “I was thoroughly impressed.” “I feel like I have a much better understanding of traditional Chinese culture at this point.”
In addition to telling stories from dynasties past, Shen Yun also incorporates contemporary stories of virtue, courage, and compassion. One such dance is The Power of Compassion. The dance tells the story of practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Dafa in contemporary China. Falun Dafa teaches truth, compassion, and tolerance.
In the dance, practitioners are practicing peacefully in a park when the police suddenly show up to haul everyone away. This leads to an unexpected encounter between a policeman and a Falun Gong practitioner.
“I was not aware that people don’t have the freedom to practice meditation in China,” said Daniel Joy. He said he was saddened to learn such is the case in China today. “I am very glad that [Shen Yun is] bringing it to our attention.”
Mrs. Joy said the values of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance resonated with her. “It seemed as if it also was sharing the message at the end that the Creator is pleased when he sees those qualities in mankind. And I think that the arts is an expression of that—to help us to get it into our everyday life.”
Shen Yun will perform in Jacksonville Jan. 24–25 and will return to Florida in the spring with performances in Orlando, Fort Myers, St. Petersburg, Miami, and West Palm Beach.
Reporting by Edie Bassen and Nicholas Zifcak
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.