RENO, Nev.—Ana and Steven Kennel missed Shen Yun Performing Arts in San Francisco where they live early in the season, so they made the trip to Reno, Nevada to catch one of the few performances at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno, Nevada, on Feb. 29, 2020.
“I know about the mission because I was reading about it, I think it’s very valid. I think people should see this as something that they should do themselves, you know, when you believe in something that’s going away or dying—this is a culture that has been fighting and was almost extinct and to my understanding, in order to make a revival again there was this group that got together and started dancing in New York,” said Ana. “And I think it’s amazing. I think they are getting somewhere.”
New York-based Shen Yun did just that 13 years ago when artists from around the world came together to establish a performing arts company to revive the traditional Chinese culture. For 5,000 years, China was known as the “Land of the Divine,” up until the middle of the last century where the communist regime came into power and began campaigns to wipe out the traditional culture.
For this reason, Shen Yun cannot be seen in China. Yet, around the world, the classical Chinese dance company has become a phenomenon, piquing the interest of people like the well-traveled Kennels.
“It’s something special. Something special,” Steven added.
Ana was impressed with both the content and the visual presentation, sharing enthusiastically about the colors and choreography and how the history was presented through brief dance pieces that are accompanied by a unique orchestra.
“They are on top of every single detail, it’s amazing,” she said.
It was less serious than one might expect from a two-hour performance that spans 5,000 years—Ana enjoyed the humorous narratives and comedic characters peppered throughout the stories.
Steven shared that the performance gave them both food for thought, and there was a lot they would read up on having now been introduced to via the performance.
“It’s really nice to be able to have the performance, to be able to see this and be exposed to the culture of China. So I think it really opens us up to some other history that may have happened in different parts of the world, and it gives us a further appreciation for humankind,” he said.
With reporting by Yawen Hung.