COSTA MESA, Calif.—Shawn Steel, a Republican National Committeeman from California, said he could see hope for the future of China and human rights after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts on Tuesday, April 12, at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
“It’s very, very good,” said Mr. Steel. “It shows some beautiful history that I wasn’t aware of. It also shows today’s China, which [is] a very dark place, because of the government rulers … Despite the darkness, there’s also a lot of light.”
This is the unique experience that Shen Yun, the world’s top classical Chinese dance and music company, gives to members of the audience. Five thousands years of genuine Chinese culture, said to be passed down from the heavens, come to life anew on stage through the universal art forms of music and dance.
However, this vast culture was nearly lost in China during a few short decades of communist rule.
Shen Yun, founded in New York in 2006, has the freedom to celebrate this ancient culture’s stories, legends, and diverse ethnic groups, along with its deep moral principles of benevolence, justice, and divine retribution.
“There’s so much richness and history,” said Mr. Steel. “Most importantly, there’s hope.”
Several vignettes during a Shen Yun performance directly address the Chinese Communist Party’s harsh oppression of spiritual groups, such as Falun Gong, or Falun Dafa. These brave and peaceful spiritual practitioners remain steadfast throughout their ordeals, and their pure-hearted efforts are rewarded.
Mr. Steel says this modern aspect of China is “something that Americans and Chinese overseas really need to understand.”
“It’s not just a Chinese issue any longer. It’s a human rights struggle, and everybody understands human rights,” he said.
The fact that Shen Yun dares to tackle such an embarrassing topic for the Chinese Communist Party, which brings so much more attention and focus to the issue, is both positive and necessary, Mr. Steel said.
“You have a lot of mainstream American politicians here that support this,” he said.
Moreover, the artistic quality of the performance itself was fresh, exciting, and beautiful, said Mr. Steel, who called the performers simply “exquisite.”
Shen Yun’s dancers spend years training in the rigorous, yet gently elegant classical Chinese dance, which has been developed and refined over thousands of years. Many of the artists have won top honors in international dance, choreography, and music competitions.
“These are great, great dancers,” said Mr. Steel. In addition, he felt that their performance was so expressive that they must also have been well-trained as actors and actresses.
Another unique feature of a Shen Yun performance is the interactive backdrop projected behind the dancers, displaying a variety of Chinese landscapes and also allowing the performers to seem to leap into the air and fly into the heavens.
“It made the stage quite exciting,” said Mr. Steel. “It works beautifully. It’s vital to the entire production.”
Finally, the theatergoer felt the entire performance flowed well from dance to dance, and to the instrumental and vocal soloists pieces interspersed throughout. It combined art, history, and culture in one satisfying and invigorating experience.
It’s important that people do come and see Shen Yun if they have the chance, said Mr. Steel, even if they have to drive some distance.
“I hope to see a new show every single year in Orange County,” he said. “I’d like to see that every year.”
Shawn Steel is a conservative activist published in numerous professional journals, newspapers and books, including the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Reporting by NTD Television and Sarah Le
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.