EUGENE, Ore.—Dancers Mr. Tracy Cooke and Ms. Anna Pearson who also paints, were in the audience at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts on March 31, 2015 to watch Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Shen Yun brings to life 5,000 years of Chinese divinely inspired civilization through music and dance.
“I loved watching the performers throughout the show. Everything was fluid and went from one motion to another. I was very impressed and blown away by the colors,” said Mr. Cooke.
He continued, “The costumes were one of the most strikings things because they could fan their costumes and turn them into different shapes.”
“Shen Yun’s costume artists collect countless designs of traditional attire, ranging from those of emperors, ministers, and generals to the everyday clothing of the common people. … Every detail is given meticulous attention and is a result of artistic inspiration and careful polishing,” Shen Yun says on its website.
“The costumes really enhanced their movements. But, they were incredibly amazing dancers,” said Ms. Pearson.
According to Shen Yun, “A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers.”
The dancers “give me clarity and how they express themselves through movement. It clears my mind in a way like a poem does, and it brings me into exactly the story they’re telling. All other thoughts that kept my mind busy went away,” said Mr. Cooke.
“When I sit down and watch these performers the day melts away. I just get carried along with the story because they are incredible story tellers through their movements.
“I can feel the strength, the dedication, and the sheer time these performers put into play. All of them worked together to make something amazing. It takes a lot of effort for everyone to synchronize and be in harmony. It’s really beautiful to watch,” said Ms. Pearson.
In addition to classically trained dancers, New York-based Shen Yun travels with award-winning vocalists.
“The singers were amazing. I thought the singers were incredible. It was amazing watching that power come from that singer. This one person filled the entire hall with her energy,” said Mr. Cooke.
“The song texts the singers perform are original works written for these pieces. Brimming with philosophical reflection about human life and containing deep layers of meaning, the texts go beyond the boundaries of nation, race, and culture,” says Shen Yun on its website.
Getting Close to the Divine Essence
“I think that the point of the show is that we all have a divine side. Gods and dance and music seem to be the things that we participate in that gets us as close to our divine essence as possible,” said Mr. Cooke.
“The performance made me really feel giddy, lighthearted, and childlike,” he said.
“The dancers were so structured and one could feel the value of their training. They were so good at their movements, but at the same time, there was a kind of effortlessness to it,” he said.
“They were able to break the mood and be playful and fun at the same time. I’m inspired to have more carefree motions,” Mr. Cooke said, referring to his own dancing.
According to the company website: “Chinese dance is rich with expressive power. Through expression of bearing and form, beautiful dance movements bring out the inner meaning of intrinsic thoughts and feelings, reflecting the peculiarities of human nature, the standard for human conduct, moral concepts, mental state, one’s value system, and so on.”
Resonates With Shen Yun Audience
Mr. Cooke thought that “the two-stringed instrument resonated with the audience. It was striking because it seems like a lot of the music in our culture doesn’t focus too much on the mid-range frequencies, while the erhu hit a really strong mid-range. But, the way that the music flowed from one note to the other in the high-range was shocking. I never heard anything like that.”
An erhu is a two-stringed violin-like instrument that rests on the player’s lap.
“I was impressed while trying to understand this music. But, I think I could have cried if I would have really opened myself up to it,” Mr. Cooke said.
“The beauty from this instrument effects the heart deeply,” he said.
The erhu is 4,000 years old and continues to stir audiences with its hauntingly beautiful sounds that have been compared both to the sound of the violin and the human voice.
Dance and Music Connects with our Divine Part
Mr. Cooke said that one learns from Shen Yun “The kind of beauty that makes one realize how much beauty is around us and how blessed we are to be where we are.”
“We touched on how we are divine beings and how the music and dance get us in touch with it. Dance and music is when we are the closest to that divine part of ourselves.”
Ms. Pearson said, “Expressing yourself is what gets you closer to the source of the connection to Divinity. I think that by expressing oneself in positive ways, we are bringing joy to other people.”
She added, “That’s why performance is so important and how you include everybody in it. I think that’s a beautiful thing.”
“I think the storytelling connects us to each other. I love the fact that this company travels around the world and tells stories and wants to share it with everybody; I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s wonderful to share cultures from everywhere.”
“Shen Yun dances recount ancient myths, bygone heroes, or celestial paradises. Whether set in the past or in contemporary China, every dance embodies traditional Chinese values. Ideals of loyalty, filial piety, and veneration for the divine are cherished and celebrated. Heroes are extolled for their compassion and tolerance as much as their courage or determination when facing adversity,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
Reporting by Sherry Dong and Heide B. Malhotra
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
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.