Shen Yun Brings Rare Art Form to Lincoln Center

January 19, 2014

NEW YORK—There is an old Chinese saying, “rarity makes it precious, scarcity makes it valuable.”

CJ Papa, morning news anchor at FiOS1 News, understood a deeper meaning to this principle during the Jan. 19 performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts.

The performance was the last of 10 for the season at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, and was sold out. The award-winning singers, dancers, composers, and musicians are heading to Washington next, then Toronto.

Yet, for Mr. Papa, the value of the show wasn’t just the scarcity of tickets. For him, it was something more fundamental: Shen Yun Performing Arts is rekindling China’s traditional culture and it cannot be seen in Mainland China.

“I just think we need to realize there is a section of the world where people don’t have the freedoms that we do, and can’t go and see shows like this, and can’t come and go as they please,” he said after the performance.

“Unfortunately that’s the reality we live in, and maybe it’s a reality that one day will change,” he said. “I think there’s a price for freedom and we pay it every day, and we’re very, very, very lucky that we live where we do.”

Shen Yun is a performance of classical Chinese dance and music. It features stories and legends from across China’s 5,000 years of history, folk dances from China’s numerous ethnic groups, and each piece is accompanied by the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra with has a unique combination of classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments.

While Shen Yun performs in top theaters around the world, often to sold out or packed theaters, including in South Korea and Taiwan, it cannot tour in Mainland China. According to a press release, “For thousands of years, China was known as the Divine Land. But under 60 years of communist rule, authentic Chinese culture, including traditional arts, have been almost lost. That is why you cannot see a performance like Shen Yun in China today.”

An element that is lost in modern Chinese dance, and an element that Shen Yun is reviving, is the principle that true art is an expression of inner beauty. To perfect an art, a person not only has to master their technical skills, they also have to cultivate their moral character.

Mr. Papa said he felt this was significant, noting “I thought it very important to tell the people who come. Especially New Yorkers, we don’t necessarily think about stuff like that.”

“It’s a shame,” he said.

Mr. Papa said “It’s a great show.” He particularly enjoyed the drum performances. “That was fantastic. That was like, ‘wow!'”

His wife, Dr. Anne Marie Ferrara, a dentist, shared his sentiments. She said they often see ballets and operas at Lincoln Center, and had wanted to see Shen Yun for some time.

“I thought it looked colorful and interesting,” Dr. Ferrara said, who noted that after reading about the non-profit performing arts company and getting a recommendation from friends who had seen it, “I went on their recommendation.”

She said she is a visual person and was into the vibrant colors and costumes and the intricate dance forms.

“It was something very light, very interesting,” she said. “We got a little culture on a cold day. Got you out of the house. Saw something colorful, and it keeps you going.”

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.  

Follow Joshua on Twitter: @JoshJPhilipp
New York, United States
Shen Yun New York Company