NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—Ten years ago, artists from around the world came together in New York to form a company that could allow them to share the authentic traditional Chinese culture on the world’s stage.
In 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts began its first world tour, and Ms. Terri Hall was one of those audience members who saw a renaissance begin. Since then, she had wanted to return to the performance of classical Chinese dance and divinely inspired culture.
A decade later, in Southern California, Ms. Hall was treated to a Shen Yun performance by her boyfriend Michael Montagna, former district attorney, at the Valley Performing Arts Center.
“Oh! Oh, they’re so … everyone is in perfect unison and the beauty and the flowing grace of it all,” said Ms. Hall, who has a background in theater and was formerly an ice skater. “I think you just have to suspend yourself to go with them, to leap with them, and to dance.”
For Mr. Montagna, the performance was “ephemeral, brings you to another world.”
“It’s magical, uplifting, ephemeral,” he repeated, marveling at Shen Yun’s technical feats. The animated background made it look like people were descending to the stage from heaven. The tumbling and aerial techniques of the classical Chinese dancers made gravity look obsolete.
“All of it is just kind of mind-blowing,” he said.
For Ms. Holli Hume, who also attended the April 19 performance, Shen Yun was not just technically mind-blowing, but eye-opening as well.
Ms. Hume works in finance for the fashion industry, and says the common perception of China is an underpaid labor force and toxic products. Most people could not imagine the loveliness of this bygone culture she was witnessing on stage.
Seeing this, she thought people would think, “‘Oh, this is what China used to be? Really? It’s lovely.’ I praise them for doing this.”
“Absolutely love it. I appreciate it, and I think mostly because of what it stands for and what it is trying to achieve,” Ms. Hume said.
Ms. Hume is a truth seeker and spiritual person who grounds herself with meditation, so to see these themes reflected in the traditional culture on stage, she connected with it quite personally.
Less than a century ago, before communism took power in 1949, before the systematic campaigns to destroy traditional values and artifacts in the 1960s, the Chinese believed in harmony between heaven, earth, and humankind. Traditional Chinese culture is said to be divinely inspired, imparted by gods, and this connection with the heavens had lasted for thousands of years.
This philosophy of bringing heaven to earth—the divine coming to help people in some stories, Buddha’s light shining in a temple, the blooming of the Udumbara flower that signals the return of the “Holy King Who Turns the Wheel”—was new to Ms. Hume and inspiring.
“I love the philosophy, I’ve never heard it before,” she said. “I think it gave me the perspective, you know at the end, … It’s just a really joyful, thankful, grateful, harmony and peace.”
Ms. Hume attended the performance with a friend, who had been quite depressed that day, feeling like it was almost pointless because of how he felt. “He came in with this heavy heart, in a really heavy heart,” she said. But it was almost funny, because “he is so overjoyed right now,” she said after the performance.
“It really gave him fulfillment and peace inside,” Ms. Hume said.
“And I think if that’s what it’s doing around the world, can you imagine—with so much chaos and violence around—if this is being shown around the world, the peace that people come out with?” she asked.
As for herself, Ms. Hume said she, too, felt at peace watching Shen Yun. “It makes me feel more peaceful, and more like I have hope in humanity, all of us, that we can start to come together.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Catherine Yang
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.