Shen Yun Brings Color to Grey Detroit

February 10, 2014

DETROIT—“Absolutely stunning! Beautiful!” was fashion photographer, David Donaldson’s reaction to the New York based Shen Yun Performing Arts performance at the Detroit Opera House.

“This winter has been harsh in the Midwest, a lot of grey and drab. The fresh colors are a nice change, the energy, the music, it’s all very entertaining,” he said.
Mr. Donaldson attended with his fiancée, Brittany Becker. Ms. Becker said Shen Yun was “elegant and beautiful.”

“Through the universal language of music and dance, Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired,” as written in the company’s website.

“The dresses are amazing.” Mr. Donaldson, previously with Dillards, really wished he had his camera to shoot the costumes.

“I liked the section where they imagined how heaven would be,” Mr. Donaldson said, speaking of the costumes. “I think those were the most beautiful and then the lotus blossoms. … Where they came out with the fabric …, that was amazing,” he said.

In Lotuses in Bloom, “dancers holding long silken fans glide across the stage like celestial fairies in flight,” the program notes say.

“They’re very entertaining, very peaceful,” said Ms. Becker, who had some training as a dancer and could appreciate it from that angle. Culture means a lot to her and she thinks it does for most people. “It was good for us to come out and it was very powerful and beautiful to see.”

“There is a lot of culture that’s here in Michigan: there’s a lot of Arab culture, a lot of European culture, you don’t see a lot of Asian culture, so it’s nice to see it come into the area” and see Shen Yun, said Mr. Donaldson, who moved back to Michigan after having grown up here.

The divinely inspired culture flourished in China until the advent of the communist regime. “Shen Yun is bringing back this glorious culture,” is written in the website.

“And on top of it be able to see the story of Chinese history without a communist [regime], … [with] somebody putting some type of rule into what … people are allowed to hear, for them to be able to get their own interpretation and the beautiful things about this country” Mr. Donaldson said.

“We are half a world away and what we learn on the TV isn’t always correct—as you get older you learn that. Shen Yun is based out of New York, they’re presenting a lot of the things that they could not present in Korea or China, which is what I want to see. I don’t want to see what the [Chinese] government says I need to know for history. I want to know the actual history what makes the world such a beautiful place, good and bad,” he said.

Shen Yun singers introduce spiritual ideas in the lyrics of their songs, which are projected on the backdrops behind the singers.

Ms. Becker said it was beautiful to see different spiritual ways, “breathtaking in a way.”

For Mr. Donaldson, the performance clarified some stereotypes of Eastern culture he’d grown up with, like Kung Fu, and “the stigmatism of it being a violent culture.” Instead Shen Yun offered “more of an artistic and very spiritual, colorful, enlightened culture. Everyone is familiar with Taoist monks and Buddhism, things along that nature, and a lot of societies tend to focus on the negative aspects of culture, rather than the positive things. So it is nice to see something come around showing the positive aspects of what else is out there on the planet.”

Mr. Donaldson felt blessed to live in a country with artistic freedom, and that people from countries without it have found a place to present “from an artistic stand point … the way things really occurred, rather than an altered version of what you would get through a controlled media source.”

He would definitely tell friends, to “come see it, for sure, absolutely, it is worth it.”

“We’ll be back next year; as a matter of fact I can’t wait for next year,” he said.

Reporting by Teresa You, 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

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.

Detroit, United States
Shen Yun World Company