CLEVELAND—When he saw Shen Yun for the first time on Feb. 1 at the State Theater, it was only natural for Richard Messner to hone in on how similar some of the dance movements are to martial arts.
Mr. Messner has been a marital arts instructor since 1976. He concentrates on the style of Ta-Kwan-Do, a Korean system. He trains his students at Hannah’s Blackbelt Academy.
Mr. Messner expressed, “I saw a lot of butterfly kicks that are used in Kung Fu and other Chinese martial arts. I saw some Chinese martial arts in it and some gymnastics.”
Gymnastics actually arose from classical Chinese dance.
Terry Messner also made some unique personal connections to the show, being a professional skating coach, who teaches at Gilmour Academy.
“I really enjoyed the performances and the artistry especially. The visual effects were really cool, too,” she said.
The idea of expressing spirituality in form of song and dance is an integral part of traditional Chinese culture that Shen Yun aspires to revitalize.
Sadly, for the last 60 years or so, under the rule of the communist regime that endorses atheism, people’s freedom to express themselves spiritually has been widely suppressed.
“My brother is a figure skating couch at the Olympic level. So he goes to China frequently,” Ms. Messner explained.
She said, “The emails came back to the family that ‘I’m in China now and that the internet is monitored and I’m not able to speak freely.'”
This related to Shen Yun in the sense that although it is a Chinese performance, it has yet to perform in Mainland China due to this suppression. “The message of suppression was evident. It’s kind of sad in a way that you can’t express that in your own country.”
“They’re trying to break away from that and still keep the tradition alive,” Mr. Messner added.
“I guess the other thing is the violence of … everything being suppressed,” Ms. Messner pointed out. “When we don’t see it [here in America] and it’s expressed that way [on stage], it becomes more realistic.”
“I would say you’d have a better idea of what’s going on in China right now,” she said.
Ms. Messner’s overall impression of the show was that she was awestruck. When asked, she said emphatically, “Awed, I was in awe.”
Reporting by Stacey Tang and Andrew Darin
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.
The 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.