Over five months after Shen Yun Performing Arts set out on its 10th annual world tour with an opening performance on Dec. 22 in Houston, the world-renowned classical Chinese dance and music company brought yet another successful season to an end with final performances in Pittsburgh and Hamilton, Canada on May 11.
With four touring groups, Shen Yun visited close to 120 cities in 19 countries on five continents, putting on over 400 performances for audiences around the globe who cheered, shed tears, and enthusiastically watched the company’s exhilarating and colorful performances.
The New York-based company dazzled audiences young and old—from the subtropical lands of Taiwan to the beautiful seaside cities of the Down Under and the cultural hubs of Europe, and from the vibrant Latin American cities of Buenos Aires and Mexico City to the prestigious venues of North Eastern United States—as they found profound meaning in the different legends and stories Shen Yun presented on stage as part of its mission to revive China’s divinely-inspired culture.
Every time the curtain went up to a new piece, business owner Rene Puente who saw one of the early performances of the season in Houston on Dec. 23 knew he was in for something spectacular.
“Every time the curtain went up it was just exhilarating…I’ve seen quite a few shows in my life, but this was just the most amazing.”
The beauty and wisdom of China’s ancient culture had a profound effect on one mother and daughter business team that saw Shen Yun’s final performance in Hamilton on May 11.
As they reflected on the performance, they were both moved to tears, describing how deeply they were touched by the performance.
“Our souls are enriched. We won’t be the same. We came in as certain people but we leave as different people tonight, all of us. I know that. … Everybody leaves on a high note tonight,” said Denise Duncan, who saw Shen Yun with her mother, Nicole.
Bennet Horton Jr., a writer, saw Shen Yun in Knoxville on Jan. 13. He said words fail him in describing his experience watching the show.
“There was a spiritual familiarity with the entire thing.”
Perhaps it is this same quality that Kim Yeong Gyun, a South Korean writer who saw Shen Yun on May 1 in Gunpo, South Korea, thought would leave an impact the world will only appreciate over time.
“The effect [of purifying] will be felt over time…It’s like our taking medicine. The effect comes fast for some people, but slow for others.”
In the words of fashion journalist Abel Hernandez, who saw Shen Yun in Barcelona on March 17, with Shen Yun, one enters another world. “At that point, you’re not here, you are in heaven, and you are in heaven with Chinese traditions. And you evade all evil to just enjoy and feel the soul.”
In San Francisco, John Hone, vice president of the real estate company Colliers International, said people enjoy Shen Yun with their souls.
“The show speaks to the soul, not the mind. You feel the show rather than intellectualize it,” said Mr. Hone. “The stories are universal; they speak to the human spirit and emotion…something that’s deep inside all of us that is sometimes indescribable through words.”
‘Enjoyment for Body and Soul’
According to Canadian Member of Parliament David Sweet, Shen Yun goes beyond just showing beautiful dance and music performances.
“It was a great way to experience the culture of China, and at the same time experience our own feelings and emotions,” said Mr. Sweet after watching the performance on April 26 in Mississauga, Ontario.
“The experience is not just one of entertainment, but one of self-development, knowledge, and learning,” he added.
It is this experience that many people in China who don’t have a chance to see this world-renowned performance—as the Chinese communist regime suppresses freedom of expression—go abroad to enjoy.
Mr. Chen, who lives in mainland China, came to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, just to see Shen Yun. For him, it is “like a rope that pulls me out of all the chaos in real life.”
After watching the performance, he felt, “every fiber of my being was relaxed. The pressure I had or the anger from the conflicts between me and coworkers became non-existent after I enjoyed myself with Shen Yun’s music,” he said.
But it is not only Chinese who travel thousands of miles just to see Shen Yun.
Uma Viswanathan, an executive with an organization focused on helping marginalized young girls with arts-based rehabilitation programs in India, flew in with a group of eight people from India to Taiyuan City, Taiwan on April 15 to see Shen Yun.
“It was wonderful, and it actually took us to another world,” she said.
Argentine Senator Lidia de Pérez, who saw Shen Yun in Buenos Aires on May 5, said Shen Yun presents values that are often pushed aside in our modern world.
“The values are transcendent, and when we lose sight of them, all is really lost,” she said. “I leave with my soul replenished and feeling like raising my voice and keep calling for freedom.”
In Tokyo, Japanese entrepreneur Katsuhito Takahashi returned to see Shen Yun in the new season with 60 friends on April 24, and said he plans to come back next year even with more friends.
“It was complete enjoyment for my soul and mind,” said Mr. Katsuhito, president of the Heisei Sough Corporation.
A Magical Experience
Academy award-winning producer Michael Phillips, who has produced such classic hits as “Taxi Driver,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “The Sting,” found Shen Yun to be a magical experience.
“It’s very magical. It takes you away,” he said after watching Shen Yun on April 24 in Los Angeles.
Academy award-wining actor George Chakiris, who caught Shen Yun on April 20 in Northridge, California, was struck by the beauty of the performance.
“I love the colors. The costumes are so beautiful. Everybody on stage is very skilled, and really wonderful at what they do,” he said.
Jean Smart, a three-time Emmy-winning actress, brought her daughter to see Shen Yun for the third time in what has become a mother-daughter tradition.
“We try to see it every year,” Ms. Smart said after seeing the performance on April 20 in Northridge.
“This time I think I enjoyed it more than ever. It just made me feel really good.”
Actor William Baldwin, who came to see Shen Yun with his daughter and her friends on April 30 in Santa Barbara, found Shen Yun to be a breathtaking performance.
“We haven’t had quite an experience like that in all the years that I’ve lived here. I’ve lived here almost 10 years now, so it was special for us,” said Mr. Baldwin.
What is surprising to many in the performing arts community is that Shen Yun has been able to become a world-renowned traveling company in just a few years. That was the reaction of Josh Prince, a Broadway performer and choreographer who saw Shen Yun on March 5 in New York.
“To have this many incredible dancers on the stage and touring the world as part of the Shen Yun company, it shows that there’s a great amount of support for the company and love for the dance,” said Mr. Prince, who did the choreography for productions such as “Shrek: The Musical” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”
Siegfried Fischbach and Ray Horn of “Siegfried & Roy,” the magician duo famed for their performances with white tigers and lions, said they had a beautiful and therapeutic experience watching Shen Yun.
“it was good for my heart and for my soul,” Mr. Fischbacher said after watching the performance on Jan. 23 in Las Vegas.
“It’s full of surprises, the culture. It moves you inside,” added Mr. Horn.
NBA Hall of Famer Spencer Haywood, who watched Shen Yun on Jan. 22 in Las Vegas, admired the skills of the dancers, and also had high praise for Shen Yun’s award-winning vocalists and the orchestra.
“I just love the skill of the dancers. The dancers were just superb.”
A Unique Orchestra
All of Shen Yun’s four touring companies feature a complete orchestra, all of them consisting of both Eastern and Western classical instruments, performing original compositions to accompany the dance performances.
Kerry Stratton, the internationally-renowned conductor of the Toronto Concert Orchestra, praised the authenticity of this unique orchestra.
“The combination of Eastern instruments and Western instruments, and the percussion, and the effects that they’ve used—you don’t hear that anywhere else, except here,” he said after watching Shen Yun on April 25 in Toronto.
Highly acclaimed cellist Christine Walevska, who has been an avid Shen Yun fan and has seen the company’s productions year after year, said the performance is just spectacular.
“The orchestra is beautiful and, of course, everybody enjoys the mix of the Western instruments with the ancient traditional Chinese instruments, and the sound is unique,” she said after watching Shen Yun on March 5 in New York.
Shen Yun a Welcome Message for Today’s World
Former Canadian finance minister and accomplished human rights lawyer and academic Irwin Cotler said Shen Yun is a very uplifting experience, and the performance, which he said is full of hope, brings a welcome message to a world filled with grim news.
“By touring the world, they are conveying to the world that amidst the war and the terrorism, there is another way, there is a better way. That way lies in traditional values, and lies in each of us to give expression to those values in our lives,” Mr. Cotler said after watching the performance on April 21 in Toronto.
Indeed, on the day of terrorist attacks on March 22 in Brussels that took the lives of over 30 people, Belgian audiences attending Shen Yun’s performance that was scheduled on the same day in Bruges, Belgium said the performance brought them solace amidst the chaos.
“[Shen Yun] awakens something that comes from the heart,” said Belgian Diane Lierman who insisted on seeing the performance after the bombings on March 22, in order to stay positive.
Shen Yun can bring hope for people, especially in moments of darkness in today’s world, such as the suffering of Chinese people who are victims of the Chinese Communist Party, commented Daniel Herman, the minister of culture for the Czech Republic.
Mr. Herman has seen Shen Yun several times, and this year he was all the more glad that Shen Yun’s performances in Brno coincided with the Easter weekend.
“[Shen Yun] is a massive power that can embrace the world, and I think it’s a positive barrier against evil, violence, lies, falsehood, and that is the way,” he said after watching Shen Yun on March 27.
In Hamburg, Germany, best-selling author Heiko Schrang said it is refreshing to see Shen Yun in today’s world where many “suffer from burnout and depression.” With Shen Yun, “one receives a message that is encouraging and of the highest quality,” he said.
‘Like nothing I have ever seen before’
Lucille Kring, Mayor Pro Tem of Anaheim, found Shen Yun to be the “most beautiful event” she has ever seen in her life.
“The music and the dances and the choreography, you cannot ask for anything more,” she said after seeing the performance on April 17 in Costa Mesa, California.
Graeme Isaako, a cast member of Australia’s “Lion King,” found a lot to like about Shen Yun. He attended the performance with his wife on March 8 in Sydney.
“Shen Yun is like nothing I have ever seen before,” said Mr. Isaako.
“They bring class with them, authenticity, something very different and real.”
Egypt’s last King Ahmed Fouad Farouk, now a resident of Geneva, said Shen Yun is a wonderful experience and thanked Shen Yun “from my heart” for the performance.
“I congratulate the wonderful [performance] company I saw tonight, the costumes, exceptional dancers, the music,” he said on Feb. 25.
But he wasn’t the only royal praising Shen Yun.
Sathsowi Thay Koroghli and her mother, daughter of the Cambodian King Sisowath Monivong, came to see Shen Yun in Las Vegas with their guests on Jan. 23.
“We wanted to see this show last year but it was sold out. So this year instead, my mother and I bought 100 tickets,” she said. “It was very beautiful, inspirational.”
Das Williams, a member of the California State Legislature, watched Shen Yun on April 30 in Santa Barbara, and said he thoroughly enjoyed it.
“My experience was a combination of learning and loving the visual element of the performance—the colors, the costumes, the lighting—it’s quite arresting,” he said, after presenting a certification of recognition to Shen Yun Performing Arts following the company’s sold-out performance at the Granada Theatre.
The colors and the beautiful hand-made costumes in Shen Yun is often cited by audience members as one of the elements that make Shen Yun an extraordinary performance.
Prominent fashion designer Erik Schaix who saw Shen Yun in Paris on March 28 said the costumes in the performance are “very refined, like the Chinese culture.”
“I loved the green, pink, and white theme; it was superb,” he said.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who saw Shen Yun in Washington D.C. on Feb. 20, said he was highly impressed by all the energy on stage.
“It was so wonderful to see the heritage, the tradition kept alive and passed on for all of us to see. It is so important that we stay connected to our roots and our heritage.”
For Taiwanese calligrapher Hsieh Yung-Tien, Shen Yun’s production couldn’t have been man’s work.
“I admire the proficiency of Shen Yun’s artistic director,” said Mr. Hsieh, who saw the performance on its opening night in Tainan on March 31.
“Gods must have done the work through his hands.”
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 reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.