GREELEY, Colo.—It’s not often that a stage performance gives audience members a spiritual experience, but judging by the comments from audience members at a matinee on July 31 in Greeley, Colorado, Shen Yun Performing Arts has achieved just that.
Shen Yun, based in New York, seeks to revive the 5,000 years of Chinese culture before the era of communism. Its touring companies have performed in over 150 cities all over the world since its inception in 2006.
Mark Patterson, principal attorney at Patterson Rutledge & Associates LLC, said he appreciated how the performance was inspired by the performers’ faith.
“I certainly believe there’s a divine source of energy in joy, in art, in life,” he said. “And when you see something joyful and beautiful filling people, they can create tremendous art, and there’s a lot of despair and ugliness in our art and culture today, and it’s wonderful to see this expression of joy and beauty and respect for the deeper sources of art.”
Patterson called Shen Yun’s mission to revive China’s traditional culture “extraordinarily important.”
“Most of us don’t know the challenge to our own culture, much less the threat to traditional Chinese culture, and we’re delighted to be here and learn so much about this great tradition and how it’s been strangled in its homeland.”
Tom Feldman, a business manager in operations at a media company, also came away from the performance with a new, more spiritual perspective on China.
“Normally, you don’t think of that as Chinese culture, because we’re always taught in this current generation that it’s the communist regime, so we don’t associate that with the spiritualness,” Feldman said. He expressed his hope that the true culture of China be preserved.
Since the communist takeover in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party has systematically destroyed the traditional beliefs and ways of life of the Chinese people, instead of imposing its atheistic ideology on the populace that has historically been deeply religious.
“I think they need to be able to bring back who they are as a people, and what their culture is and what they’ve expressed over the many years in life,” Feldman said. Feldman attended the performance with his wife, Rachel, who said the dancers’ artistry brought her to tears.
“The beauty of what our bodies are capable of, by what our Creator made us to be—it’s amazing,” she said.
Emily Sonmore was also blown away by what she saw, which she described as “above par,” and “excellent and elegant.”
Now retired, Sonmore once danced and sang in church groups.
“The Lord is the Creator of all the beauty that is in the earth,” she said. “And in every culture, He has gifted every culture and every nation with strengths that the rest of the world needs to see because God didn’t make just one kind of people. He made many people, and we need to be able to love one another, and see the gifts that God has given for every culture.”
She continued: “I feel sad that you can’t bring that truth to the Chinese people in China. Whoever wrote the show had this burden in their heart, that they would like to share with others that there’s something more than nothing, that there’s a Creator, and that he really loves us all.”
Reporting by Sunny Chen, Michelle Yang, and Lily Yu.