WASHINGTON—Internationally acclaimed Shen Yun Performing Arts opened the first of seven performances at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Feb. 16, bringing the magic of 5,000 years of ancient civilization to life, all in one night. Audience members spoke of power, humanity, and a moving experience they couldn’t wait to share.
“I thought it was powerful. I was absolutely mesmerized by how it was put together,” said Nancy Steorts, a leading safety consultant. Ms. Steorts is the former chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission under President Ronald Reagan and former First Consumer Adviser to the US Secretary of Agriculture. She has authored three books on safety, spoke on the topic as a speaker and media commentator, and has been awarded for her expertise.
Ms. Steorts’ attending New York-based Shen Yun was almost a whim. Only a week ago she crossed paths with two women who introduced the performance to her, and she decided to see it, and came Tuesday night by herself.
As Ms. Steorts sat in the theater, watching a divine culture unfold, she thought about what an international experience this was and felt appreciative. She thought, “I’ve got to tell all my friends to try to come.”
The story of China was astounding. The curtains had rose on a heavenly scene, showing audience members the divine beginnings of the country once called the Celestial Empire. Then, through classical Chinese dance and music, scenes unfolded one after another, showing everything from the best of Chinese literature to ethnic dances of minority groups across China, to celebrations of everything from the Udumbara flower to a bountiful harvest. The performance even led up to stories about modern day China, where the time-tested virtues of traditional Chinese culture triumph.
It was something Ms. Steorts said she had absolutely no idea about, and accomplished in an astonishing way.
“It just epitomized what can be done, and I think it was just fantastic,” Ms. Steorts said. You only need to look at the way the dancers are costumed, and how they could dance, she explained. “Everything about it was just absolutely special.”
“It touched my heart and it touched my soul,” she said. “The message that we got was spirit much greater than ours and that we are here for a purpose, but then we return to heaven. And I thought that was really really meaningful. The way it was portrayed was fabulous.”
A Beautiful Tradition
Shen Yun was formed in 2006 by a group of artists from around the world, who wished to share the authentic traditional Chinese culture with the world. Today, four companies of equal size tour the globe every year, visiting about 100 cities every season.
Washington is one of those cities that has welcomed Shen Yun back with open arms year after year. This year, which marks its 10th anniversary in the city, the company received several proclamations from officials of various levels for Shen Yun’s work in spreading this culture.
“Thank you for your continued dedication to sharing the beauty of your tradition in Washington, D.C.,” wrote Congresswoman Donna F. Edward in a certificate of congressional recognition.
For Bill and Mary Roth, this was the very first year they had heard of Shen Yun. They saw a colorful television spot, and Mr. Roth said, “now that’s a show I’d like to go see.” So Mrs. Roth bought the tickets. It was a simple decision to attend.
For Mrs. Roth, a realtor in Virginia, it ended up being a profound experience.
“I’ve been in awe of some of the dances and the emotion it portrays,” she said. “It’s the human story, and all throughout our land, throughout the world.”
Mr. Roth felt it in a different way, he said, but was contemplating on a similar message. “The unity of mankind in general. Not China, not America, just mankind. Humans,” he said. For him, it was a night of excitement. From the moment the curtains rose he just felt anticipation, “and being pulled into the show.”
For Robert Matkin, a retired budget analyst for the government, Shen Yun was so lovely he had to attend again.
Every aspect of the multi-faceted show this year was amazing. He thought the classical Chinese was so much better than other dances. The 4,000 year old erhu had produced such a wide range of sound with only two strings. And it was so heartening to see that tradition was being passed on, “so that the Chinese tradition isn’t lost.”
“It gives a sense of peace and hope. So, it’s a wonderful sentiment to not just go for your own, looking out for yourself and actually trying to help other people, and just be a better person,” he said. “It was really outstanding.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Sherry Dong, and Catherine Yang
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 reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.