NEWARK—Shen Yun dancers portray stories from China’s vast history to the tune of a live orchestra melding both Eastern and Western sounds.
As someone unfamiliar with Chinese culture, Andy Zapcic, lawyer, thought watching Shen Yun Performing Arts’s depiction of tales in combination with music and dance was a great introduction to the ancient civilization.
“The choreography is unbelievable. The music is beautiful … the orchestra is fabulous,” Zapcic said after seeing the performance with his wife and mother-in-law at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey, on April 27.
He was especially thankful for the two emcees, who gave short introductions to each story and dance. These helped Zapcic follow what was unfolding on stage.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts is currently on its 2019 world tour, performing in over 130 cities to showcase the essence of 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. Its two-hour-long program consists of various self-contained segments including classical Chinese dance vignettes, musical soloists, and dance-based storytelling.
Zapcic, who owns his own law firm, particularly enjoyed the classical Chinese dance piece titled “Porcelain in the Balance.” In that segment, dancers perform with large porcelain vases on top of their heads, showing off their powers of balance and control.
“I thought that was pretty amazing. I don’t know how they did that,” he said.
The attorney was seated close to the stage, and thus also had a good view of the orchestra pit.
“I didn’t know that there was musicians until I saw the harp and the gong. So I thought it was stage music but it’s actually live music,” he said.
“It’s beautiful, they do a beautiful job.”
Shen Yun’s orchestra uniquely blends both Eastern and Western instruments, creating a layered and resonant sound.
Faith and Culture
Zapcic appreciated the spiritual themes underpinning the stories and songs of the performance.
“It kind of gives you an inner peace, you can feel it, the whole show has an inner peace,” he said.
The story of resilience in the face of persecution in today’s China caused Zapcic to reflect on the freedoms he enjoys in the United States.
“You can see the struggles in that one segment about how you can’t profess your own faith, or profess your own beliefs. And that’s sad that China still has that,” Zapcic said.
The segment depicted the persecution of adherents of spiritual discipline Falun Gong by the Chinese communist regime. Such content exposing the regime’s human rights abuses is one reason the performance cannot be shown in China.
“[I heard that] you couldn’t actually put this performance on in China, which is really telling because that’s something great about America— is that you can say anything you want, and show any type of show you want to show, and I don’t have to agree with it, but you have the right to say what you want to say.”
“But that’s the beautiful thing about America, I wish China and other countries would take their lead from America and let people say what they want to say.”
For Zapcic, the main takeaway from the performance was a message of kindness.
“Everybody … doesn’t matter where you’re from, people are people and everybody should get along, and try to help each other. And look out for each other and understand each other’s culture.”
With reporting by Frank Liang.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.