ST. LOUIS—Valentine’s Day is what brought Arnold Meyers to St. Louis, a 35-mile drive from Highland, Illinois, to see a Shen Yun Performing Arts performance. “I brought my valentine,” said Mr. Meyers. His valentine was his lovely wife, Jeanne, a retired school nurse. They attended the Saturday matinee at the Peabody Opera House on Feb. 13.
New York-based Shen Yun is the premier classical Chinese dance and music company. Its mission is to bring to the world genuine traditional Chinese culture; a culture spanning 5,000 years from the “Yellow Emperor and through the Tang and Song dynasties and all the way to the modern day,” states Shen Yun’s website.
Mr. Meyers described the performance as tremendous. “Very much choreographed, very much in unison, the colors are beautiful, and the introductions are also important,” he said.
Introductions are given by multi-lingual emcees to the 20 mini-drama dances. The mediums for telling the stories are classical Chinese dance, an orchestra blending East and West, and a unique state-of-the-art digital stage backdrop.
“Oh, you don’t know where to look [on stage],” Ms. Meyers said. “It’s like being mesmerized by the whole thing. It is wonderful.”
“The stories give so much information about the history and the culture. I am really impressed,” she said.
Much of the information is conveyed through dance. According to Shen Yun’s website, “China’s deep cultural traditions are contained in classical Chinese dance, allowing its movements to be richly expressive, such that the personalities and feelings of characters can be portrayed with unparalleled clarity. It is therefore capable of depicting scenes from any time period … in a strikingly vivid way.”
Ms. Meyer’s emotions varied depending on what was shown on stage. She explained: “With the drummers, you could feel the excitement; we laughed when we saw the Monkey King; and there is a calming effect to the performance. You just feel really relaxed while you are watching it. It’s fun.”
Shen Yun is “reflective of the history that is so important,” said Mr. Meyers. “So much of this has been lost, and as [the emcee] mentioned you cannot see this in China these days. It’s amazing that you can’t.”
“Keep it up,” was Mr. Meyers message to the Shen Yun performers.
“It looks like [the performers] enjoy it,” Ms. Meyers concluded. “It doesn’t look like they are working hard, although I know they are. It just looks like they just love it, they just do it.”
‘What a Present!’
Another couple, Bob and Dolores Ruth from Washington, Missouri, attended the same Shen Yun performance as the Meyers. They, too, had come by way of a gift from their son and daughter-in-law.
“We were given the tickets as a Christmas present, and what a present! Beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” said Mr. Ruth, a mail carrier for 25 years.
“I cannot wait to tell them thank you again [for the gift],” said Mr. Ruth. The gift-givers live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, “So when Shen Yun comes to Milwaukee, we will have to give them a ticket to see it, if they haven’t seen it,” said Mrs. Ruth.
Shen Yun tours the globe each season to over 100 cities in some 20 countries, states the Shen Yun website.
“It was fabulous,” said Ms. Ruth. “The colors and the rhythm were just unbelievable, loved every part of it.”
Many audience members report that they feel uplifted by the performances. The Ruths felt the same. Mrs. Ruth said, “Oh just uplifting. It really did. It’s just.” Her husband chimed in “exciting.” She continued “exciting, uplifting, just beautiful.”
Mr. Ruth found the way the digital backdrop interacted with the dancers to be impressive. “I loved the backdrop. That was really neat the way they come in and appear, the timing was just great,” he said.
They both also thought the backdrop scenes were beautiful. They added “to the ambiance of the whole thing,” said Mrs. Ruth.
As Shen Yun cannot be seen in China because of the communist regime, Mrs. Ruth found it great that Shen Yun is expressing the traditional culture outside of China.
“I appreciate how they’re trying to keep it. She added that hopefully it was something “we can do here in the United States—to keep our values which are sliding away from us if we’re not careful.”
“So, I appreciate what they’re trying to do, and [she recommended Shen Yun] to keep it.”
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.