WATERBURY, Conn.—Reverend Dennis Langevin had fought in the Vietnam War and since then, as a disabled veteran, is in near constant pain. On Feb. 13, he found in Shen Yun Performing Arts a sort of miracle.
What had started as a mere curiosity for the performance advertised in bright spring colors turned out to be a healing experience that took away his pain.
“I’m 100 percent disabled so I spend a lot of time in pain. So, while I’m sitting in the seats, all of a sudden a realization—I wasn’t feeling any more pain!” said Mr. Langevin at the Palace Theater, before pouring out his gratitude to the performers.
“So I want to say a thank you to each of the performers, and to each and every one in the orchestra for what they’re doing,” he said.
“For these two hours that they’re performing, my pain is gone, and for that I’d like to say thank you very, very much, and thank you for the professionalism, and the show is just fantastic,” he said. “What I received in return was far more than expected.”
In two hours, New York-based Shen Yun seems to cover the span of 5,000 years of China’s storied history. The performers seek to revive the authentic, traditional Chinese culture—something believed to be divinely inspired.
Though most audience members may not feel as dramatic a change in their bodies as Mr. Langevin has, theatergoers almost universally speak of how light they feel, how uplifted and happy they are, after seeing the performance.
On Shen Yun’s website, there is a library of content explaining the art forms the company performs, and the intent behind them. The artists seek to uplift and inspire, taking a page out of the book of ancient Chinese, who lived with the belief of balance between heaven, earth, and humankind. The arts are held as gifts from the gods, products of a divine culture.
Classical Chinese dance, for instance, encompasses the wisdom of thousands of years, having been refined and passed down through the dynasties. Bel canto is the traditional upper range vocal technique said to be the soul of music, perfected in Europe in the 19th century and is similar to the traditional opera technique in ancient China. Shen Yun’s vocalists sing original Chinese compositions in the bel canto style.
And the orchestra that accompanies the performance has ancient Chinese instruments—the two-stringed erhu and Chinese lute, pipa—as permanent members of the ensemble. The characters for music and medicine are similar, as the uses were once similar, and music was used to heal by the ancient Chinese. Shen Yun’s composers are cognizant of music’s ability to affect one’s mood and state of being, and create original compositions and arrangements unlike any other with the unique ensemble.
Through these art forms, some which are little known in the West, Shen Yun tells stories, myths, and legends from the beginning of China up to the present day. The result is something moving, Mr. Langevin explained, even for him.
“I’m a Marine, and we’re known for being tough guys, Marines. Well, it brought a tear to my eye,” he said. “How do you say thank you to someone who can do that for you?”
“Thank you for the opportunity. I hope they, the performers and the orchestra, get to see [his interview], because I truly mean it: they touched my heart and they touched my soul, and very few people ever do that,” he said.
While there were many moving moments in the performance, Mr. Langevin chose a couple of them to share.
The finale, for one, “just kind of touched my soul.” He saw the story of a man who held on to his faith. “No matter what, he didn’t change his belief ’til the end. More people should be like that. That’s just a wonderful wonderful thing that they do, and again the wonderful thing they did for me,” he said, thanking the performers again.
In another moment, one of the soloists sang something that was so touching. “I could tell she was singing from her heart and her soul, which made it that much more beautiful.”
“It’s just fantastic, it really is,” he said. “Thank you so much.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Catherine Yang
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.