GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—”The colors, the use of movement and music to convey the stories and mythologies was quite stunning,” said Lewis Winkler, seminary professor at the East Asia School of Theology, after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at the DeVos Performance Hall on Feb. 15.
Dr. Winkler attended the matinee performance with his mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and wife.
His mother-in-law, psychiatric nurse Charlotte Biays and sister-in-law, farm owner Sherla Proffitt while in town from Kansas all decided to see today’s performance.
“This was a completely unique experience,” Mrs. Biays commented. “We marveled at how the emotions were conveyed with the dance movements. A movement would depict an emotion. There were no words obviously,” she said. “It was a unique experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it.”
She loved how she could feel the expression of emotion from the dancing and the music go from sadness, to gaiety, to liberation.
Shen Yun has an all-new program each season. Since 2006, the New York-based dance and music company has sought to revitalize traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese dance.
According to the company’s website, “Through the universal language of music and dance, Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired.”
“I think I appreciated the attempts to convey cultural values and an understanding of history,” Dr. Winkler stated. “I appreciate the fact that they are pointing out the importance of preserving those traditions as well as opposing the regimes that opposed the express(ion) and the freedom to appreciate and to continue those traditions.”
“Oh it was amazing. Really enjoyed it. It’s beautiful,” Barbara Winkler said.
Dr. Winkler believes Shen Yun’s mission to preserve Chinese culture is important “because embedded in the culture are many… values and the things that help people together… and the destruction of those values in the last couple of generations have produced a great crisis in people, in their ability to understand what is true, what is good, and I think that has created an unfortunate pursuit of trying to fulfill their lives with money. The pursuit of things rather than what’s most important, god and family.”
“All men are created in the image of God,” Mrs. Winkler added. “And so we see their creativity reflected in their culture. And it’s unique. They can do it in a way that Americans can’t and don’t… we appreciated their modesty. Modesty… they’re very modest, … it’s so beautiful. And that has endured for thousands of years.”
She further explained her sense that value of family is disintegrating America, as a young culture, influenced by things like pornography on the internet. “It’s damaging to our culture. But their culture lasted so long and part of it are these values …, and modesty was one of them,” as well truth and compassion, virtues emphasized in the performance.
Dr. Winkler noticed how even Shen Yun’s costumes themselves demonstrate an unbelievable creativity and expressiveness. For example, he liked the idea how the plum blossom represents courage because it blooms early in the spring.
What he got most out of the performance was how it depicted ways that Chinese culture has expressed appreciation for the harmony between nature, humanity, and heaven. And “that there should be a proper relationship with each other, with the Earth, and with God.”
He felt that the very fact that the dancers “move in harmony, they move together with one another, … demonstrated a kind of holistic picture.”
He went on to clarify: “That sort of thing is often not appreciated in the West where we tend to emphasize individualism above the community, above the importance of cooperation, of working together with, like I said, in harmony with God, in harmony with each other, and in harmony with the Earth.”
Dr. Winkler said finally, “I know they are going to Chicago in early March, and I have some folks that I might mention to them that the show is coming. It’s worth seeing.”
Reporting by Ying Wan and Andrew Darin
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006