HOUSTON—Bringing 5,000 years of culture to life is no small feat.
The effect, said patent attorney Chandran Kumar after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts, is insightful, humbling, and life-changing.
“It gives you a new appreciation … a first time appreciation of the Chinese culture, and how it influences the dance, how it influences the music, just some very, very deep concepts that we take for granted,” said Mr. Kumar at the Jones Hall for the Performing Arts on Dec. 24. He attended the performance with his wife Mireya and two daughters, Calista and Alondra, who had been the ones to pick Shen Yun.
It could be because New York-based Shen Yun presents a China rarely seen.
The dance company, now at the start of its 10th annual world tour, was founded by artists who came together from around the world to revive traditional Chinese culture. The performing arts company states its mission is to, through dance and music, give life to 5,000 years of the divinely inspired Chinese civilization, which was once almost lost.
As Mr. Kumar was watching the performance, he said he wasn’t just seeing movement, but “it’s actually an impression of thousands of years of human history.”
“It sends chills down your spine just thinking about it, it’s centuries of human history that we are seeing,” he said. “That was just wonderful, wonderful to appreciate.”
In a personal sense, watching Shen Yun evoked a deep sense of humility for Mr. Kumar. He described it as both vast and deep, and came back to the idea of humility and appreciation throughout the sharing of his experience.
The program is wide-ranging and new every year. Shen Yun performs classical Chinese dance as well as ethnic and folk dances from some of the 50-plus ethnic minorities across China; dances are set in different eras corresponding to different dynasties and periods in China’s 5,000 year history; and the digital backdrop creates settings from celestial vistas to undersea palaces for various stories.
“There’s a lot of humility when you see something like this … we’re just a speck in the creativity that’s been going on for thousands of years,” Mr. Kumar said. “I love being given this little insight, and being part of it.”
The depth he witnessed came from this spirituality that is so present in traditional Chinese culture. According to Shen Yun, the traditional art forms carry with them ancient Chinese principles. Classical Chinese dance, for instance, has soaked up “profound wisdom from every era and dynasty … embodying traditional aesthetic principles,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
“A lot of the principles, concepts of this supernatural divinity which we’ve been separated from and now there’s this struggle, that’s almost self inflicted, that we’re in, and we’re trying to get back,” Mr. Kumar said. “And there’s political forces, maybe even personal forces, that keep holding us down. But there’s always that hope—a wonderful ending—there’s that hope that you’re going to break through.
“It’s not just power and strength that gets you through. It’s a matter of grace and a bit of humility,” he said.
Mrs. Kumar agreed and said she thought it was endurance that would help one break through.
For her, the experience was a magical one. She picked many favorites, and said it was “the fluidity, the magic,” that had the dances stand out for her as they were “so artistic, and divine.”
“I thought it was magical,” Mrs. Kumar said. “Entranced, I would say.”
The girls were pleased with their pick of performances for the Christmas Eve family outing.
Calista, gesturing widely across her, explained that she liked it because the performers filled the stage in a way that she didn’t miss a thing.
Alondra admired the performers and said she was in awe of their strength and discipline. “I felt amazed, definitely entranced,” Alondra said.
Mr. Kumar praised the discipline as well. “It’s not just they’re doing a few dance steps—you’ve got to dedicate years of your life to do this properly, to do it in a way where it changes people. It’s really a life-changing experience,” he said.
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.