Mr. Woodworth came out on Wednesday night to see the New York-based company present its 2014 performance, just as he had in previous years.
“There is no question that it meets the highest artistic standards. The precision and the coordination and the collaboration and the discipline of the artists is just magnificent.
“I shouldn’t omit their athleticism since that’s what I admire the most. That’s what I have least of. So it’s a pleasure to watch, a pleasure to listen to,” he said.
Shen Yun stages performances of classical Chinese dance as well as folk dances and ethnic dances from China’s diverse ethnicities. A live symphony orchestra that includes traditional Chinese instruments accompanies the dancers.
The performance is an effort born out of a mission to revive 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture.
That culture was steeped in traditional values such as respect for the divine, filial piety, and compassion. These values were passed down through many channels including the performing arts and Chinese spiritual traditions like Buddhism and Daoism. Mr. Woodworth noted their presence in Shen Yun’s performance that night.
“What I saw coming clear tonight was really a display of the virtues—beauty and grace, and nobility and heroism, and faith, love, and hope. These are virtues that in our popular culture we don’t see very often, so I hope that the rest of the audience is as inspired by them as I am.
“The fact is that these performances distill art and ideals that people have developed and acquired over thousands of years. I think it’s a sad and sorry culture which would disregard the wisdom of the ages. So I think Shen Yun does us a great service in reminding us of those virtues.”
Shen Yun’s effort to revive Chinese culture is motivated in large part by the loss of that culture in China, where 60 years of communist rule has seen deeply held traditions systematically suppressed and destroyed.
That process was most evident during the decade-long Cultural Revolution that began in 1967, but continues today with the more than decade-long suppression and persecution of the Falun Dafa meditation discipline.
Mr. Woodworth was familiar with that situation and shared his sympathies.
“My heart also goes out to those who are suffering as a result of their simple desire to practice Falun Dafa.
“It’s always been an irony to me that the simplest gentlest people who want nothing more than to pursue their own practices and beliefs are the ones who seem to attract the attention of tyranny and the persecution of dictators. So I for one want to stand in solidarity with those who are persecuted,” he said.
One of the evening’s dances dealt with that subject. The Steadfast Lotus tells the tale of a daughter whose mother is taken from her by communist regime police for practicing Falun Dafa.
It’s a tale that has played out in real life countless times in China.
Mr. Woodworth discussed some of the symbolism of the dance’s title and what it represented.
“The lotus is a symbol of purity and enlightenment, and in a way that is the best goal for any of us to follow, whether we do it in my faith of Christianity or in someone else’s practice of Falun Dafa or other ways.
“I think the beginning of wisdom is to call all things by their right names, and enlightenment is what we should all be striving for.
“It’s important that Shen Yun brings to us the hope that we can achieve that kind of enlightenment and purity.”
He said everyone who comes to see Shen Yun takes something different from the show, but all at the basic level can see its brilliant colour, dancing, and music and appreciate the quality of the entertainment.
“You can immerse yourself in the mythic culture of times gone by and just enjoy being transported to those ages. It’s entertainment and it lets your imagination go free.”
With reporting by NTD Television
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will continue on to Mississauga for five performances starting on Thursday. 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.