Shen Yun ‘Enlightening,’ Says Professor

March 4, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

TAMPA, Fla.—As the lights dimmed and the curtain opened, the audience was treated to a tour of five millennia of traditional Chinese culture at the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance on Sunday, March 4.

The sold-out performance took place at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Iuri Herzfeld, an oceanographer and professor at the University of South Florida, was in attendance.

Mr. Herzfeld said the show was “enlightening.”

“It was beautiful, very enlightening—knowing that the truth will always prevail,” he said.

New York-based Shen Yun is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. Formed in 2006, the company consists of the world’s top overseas Chinese performing artists, who seek to revive traditional Chinese culture and art forms.

Much of China’s traditional culture has been lost during decades of repression under the Chinese communist regime, especially during the Cultural Revolution of 1966–1976.

Mr. Herzfeld was deeply impressed with the performers’ dedication and said their “great intentions” to express the profound themes of traditional Chinese culture was inspiring.

According to the Shen Yun website, “traditional Chinese culture originates in the beliefs of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. These three pillars formed the cultural values such as respect for the heavens, divine retribution, benevolence, and justice.”

Mr. Herzfeld said the show displayed an honesty and sincerity in its themes and stories.

“It’s the truth. When the truth is shown, I think you have to bow to the truth and say thank you,” he said.

The dancers’ graceful form, and talent also impressed Mr. Herzfeld deeply.

“[It was] beautiful. I loved the shapes, the forms—the athleticism was amazing as well,” he said. “It was really, really pretty.”

Shen Yun’s trademark animated backdrops were a pleasant surprise for Mr. Herzfeld. The digital moving backdrops feature interplay between the performers and the screen, adding context and excitement to each story-dance.

“It was pretty amazing. The coordination of that is pretty phenomenal,” he said.

“It was the first time I’ve seen something like that for sure.”

Reporting by Sally Sun and Justina Wheale.

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will next perform in Memphis, Tenn., on March 6 and 7.

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