HOUSTON—John Constantine, an accounting manager for USM, Inc., an engineering, design, and manufacturing facility, attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Houston Jones Hall for the Performing Arts on December 30th.
Mr. Constantine is a huge fan of Shen Yun and its mission.
“What they’re currently going through—and the love of the people here and keeping the 5,000 years of civilization of art, culture, and Chinese traditional life—that’s very touching to me,” he said.
Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts was established in 2006 with the mission of reviving 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture.
Mr. Constantine is also a big fan of principal Shen Yun dancer Angelia Wang, who is touring with the New York Company this year. Days before the performance, he sent a fruit and flower basket to the theater for Ms. Wang because he had seen her in a previous year’s show. Mr. Constantine wrote Ms. Wang a card expressing how inspired he was by her, and that he is a big fan.
“It’s the conviction in her face and the way she gives her whole self to what she does. It’s really inspiring to me,” he said.
But Mr. Constantine is moved by the devotion of all the dancers. “From the face, from the movement, from the flow, and from the way all of the dancers interact with each other—it’s really touching,” he said.
At the core of Shen Yun’s performance is classical Chinese dance and music, with ethnic and folk dances rounding out the evening. Soaking up profound wisdom from every era and dynasty, classical Chinese dance has become a complete system of dance embodying traditional aesthetic principles with its unique dance movements, rhythms, and inner meaning, according to Shen Yun’s website.
Mr. Constantine used to dance himself and was once a dance administrator. He is truly happy to see the traditional Chinese culture “alive and strong,” and said that he felt the show was a new experience for him that he connected with.
“I would consider myself a spiritual person. I think that’s part of the reason why I can connect with this show. Because it’s not just us here, and it is not just this life,” Mr. Constantine said. “It is beings greater than us that connect us, and I think that’s why we want to live in peace, harmony, and love, and do good.”
“It gives us something to live for and it gives us something to aspire for outside of this life,” he said.
According to Shen Yun’s website, “principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience.”
Originating from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, these ideals are the essence of traditional Chinese culture, its website states.
Mr. Constantine said that he one hundred percent believes that audiences are touched by the devotion of the young dancers. “I’m touched. And tonight’s performance, I’m going to say, was just as touching as last year. It’s just great to see a new show— and see that it’s alive—and just as strong as ever,” he said.
“I love it. I’ll be back next year,” he added.
Mr. Constantine would like to tell the dancers to keep doing what they are doing: “Keep the spirit alive and keep the Chinese tradition alive. Do it because of the love of what you do, and it’ll always be fulfilling.”
Mr. Constantine said that, in today’s complicated world, he thinks that Shen Yun “reaffirms that there’s a connection between the spiritual and the physical. If we know that, then that gives us a reason to want to do good and with unity with a being higher than us.”
He also said he would like to personally thank Ms. Wang. “It’s hard to put into words because it’s in my heart. I’m inspired, and thinking about this, and thinking about the positive experience of this type of show: It gives me strength to keep going,” he said.
While Mr. Constantine spends his days sitting at a desk doing work with numbers, he said that he is starting to see the artistic side. “It’s inspiring me,” he said.
“In my personal life, the older I get I’m starting to do a few things to reawaken the creativity—design some things. And I’m drawing, so I’m getting back in touch with the artistic side,” Mr. Constantine said. “It’s fulfilling.”
With family scattered across the U.S, he said he always recommends Shen Yun.
“When something moves me, I spread the word. Word of mouth is quite powerful. I love it,” he said. Adding, “It’s a small expression of my gratitude for what y’all have done for me.”
He also noted that he loves Shen Yun’s new 2013 program, and that he was inspired by the “part where it connects with the reality and the plight of the Chinese people and the persecution that’s going on.”
Reporting by Yang Chen and Kelly Ni.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company will be performing in Houston through January 1. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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