ESCONDIDO, Calif.- “It’s breathtaking, absolutely astounding, and there are so many dimensions [to the performance],” said Dr. Carol Frances, who attended Shen Yun Performing Arts Feb. 24 at the California Center for the Arts upon the invitation of her daughter, Allyn Van Alstyne.
Dr. Frances, a nationally recognized economist who specializes in the economics and finance of education, is the former chief economist of the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C. representing colleges and universities to the federal government. She is also chairman of the Higher Education Colloquium and is often a presenter at national and international conferences.
She said the stories portrayed in the dance pieces and the accompanying vibrant, animated backdrops were exquisite. She was also delighted by an instrumental solo with the erhu, an ancient Chinese instrument often referred to as a two-stringed, Chinese violin. The erhu dates back four thousand years. Its melodies often arouse deep emotions, striking listeners’ hearts and minds.
But it was not just Shen Yun’s artistry that delighted Dr. Frances. She was inspired by the values and traditional Chinese culture conveyed in the performance.
China was once known as the Shen Zhou, “Divine Land,” with the belief that its rich culture was a gift from the heavens. Shen Yun, formed by a group of leading overseas artists in New York, seeks to revive the divinely inspired culture through story-based dance and music.
According to Shen Yun’s website, “Sophisticated dance techniques, an orchestra joining instruments from both the East and West, beautiful costumes, and a stunning backdrop—this is Shen Yun at first glance. But digging deeper, one discovers a sea of traditional Chinese culture. Mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, all come to life, washing over the audience.”
A Shen Yun performance includes over 20 vignettes that transport audience members on a journey through Chinese civilization, where myths and legends come to life, and virtues such as bravery, compassion, kindness, loyalty, and perseverance are personified.
“There are so many values from the East that the West could benefit from [in the performance],” said Ms. Van Alstyne. “Respect, altruism, a long view of history, perfectionism and heightened achievement, and no separation between the physical and the metaphysical.”
“When you learn something that stimulates, you want to go back, and learn more,” said Dr. Frances. “There’s a lot to learn in addition to the messages. The dancers convey this strength, agility, [and] discipline.”
According to the company website, there is an inextricable connection between the arts and heaven: “Throughout history, almost every culture looked toward the divine for inspiration. Today, Shen Yun’s artists-dancers, musicians, choreographers, and composers, and the entire team-follow this noble tradition.”
“For them, this spiritual connection is the motivation for striving to excel, is the heart behind each movement of the dancer and each note of the musician. It is why audiences can feel there is something different about Shen Yun,” explains the website.
The Chinese history portrayed in the performance equally inspired Ms. Van Alstyne: “I’ll go straight to Wikipedia and do more research.”
Dr. Frances said, “I can hardly wait to see next year’s program.”
Dr. Frances’ credentials include a diploma in political studies in France, a BA in International Relations from UCLA, an MA in International Relations at Stanford and an MA in Economics from Yale, and a PhD in Economics from Duke University.
Reporting by Jane Yang and Thanh Le
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006