JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Consultant Tim Gabriel thought Shen Yun Performing Arts was “one of the most beautiful, choreographed assemblage of dancing and performing” that he had ever seen on stage.
To Gabriel, the performance was more than just the glamour and bright colors. It had a storyline that transcended typical myths and legends. It had stories about the creation and the return of the Creator that inspired deep thought and self-reflection—something Gabriel was able to relate to.
“The whole thing [inspired me], regarding creation and return of the Creator and this all being ‘don’t fall for the wiles of the world,'” he said. “I’m a Christian and so I try to practice, I’m pretty imperfect, but I do try.”
New York-based Shen Yun is a classical Chinese dance and music performance with the mission to bring back the traditional culture and values that were nearly lost after seven decades of communist rule.
Traditional Chinese culture is replete with virtues and values that stem from the nation’s semi-divine traditional culture. China was once known as Shen Zhou, or divine land, a term which describes a time where mortals and deities co-existed as well as an old belief that the divine transmitted a rich culture to the people of the earth, according to the company website.
Many stories portrayed in Shen Yun contain themes like spiritual devotion, the benevolence of gods, good and evil retribution, and the search for the meaning of life. They aim to encourage audience members to reflect on themselves and strive to become better people.
“I think that’s what we all want, a lot of people don’t realize it because they’ve become too secular,” Gabriel said, adding that the lack of faith and rise of atheism in modern China makes people forget the need to strive to be good so that one day they can return to Heaven.
Gabriel, who is a consultant for federal government projects, also said he enjoyed the message coming out of the last story “The Final Moment,” a piece he saw commenting on modern people’s use of technology and changing morality.
“You need to shut the cell phone off once in a while … It’s all secondary, it’s just supposed to be a tool, not your life,” he said.
He continued, “It bothers me and hopefully it will change, but you know the world is going to hell in a handbasket and shows like [Shen Yun] I think help to preserve things.”
Meanwhile, he thought the dancers’ artistry helped with the delivery of the themes and messages from the stories.
“If you paid attention to the storyline of the dancers, they expressed it with a lot of emotion there. They expressed it and got it across to me,” he said.
With reporting by Sally Sun.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.