SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—Karen Eastey says she has been a piano instructor for the majority of her life. She’s the former music director at a charter school near Santa Barbara, and she currently is a singer, pianist, and instructor at local music studio.
She was the guest of Ms. Lynnda Palmer, a former charter school administrator, at The Granada Theatre April 29 as they marveled at the beauty that is Shen Yun Performing Arts.
“The level of talent was amazing. Absolutely amazing,” Ms. Eastey said. She noted how smoothly the female performers crossed the stage, “and how they work with their props—the fans, the scarfs, and the sleeves—oh my goodness. Extremely creative.”
She felt that Shen Yun is unique.
“We go to the theater all the time. We see plays, we see Broadway, we see dramas, but this! This is magnificent, very different, and wonderful. We will be telling everyone about it,” she said.
Ms. Palmer said that she was in a nearby city earlier in the day, and she overheard people talking about Shen Yun. “I kept hearing people who have come to this performance say how wonderful it was,” she said.
She decided to watch the performance after seeing all the beautiful images in a brochure she received in the mail.
“I thought ‘I’ve got to see this,'” she said. “It was beyond [my] expectations—very moving. The choreography, music, message, and soloist—I would recommend it.”
Ms. Palmer wants her son, who has an interest in Chinese culture, to see the performance. “He definitely needs to see this,” she said.
Shen Yun is a New York-based, classical Chinese dance and music company that tours to more than 100 cities, in 20 countries, and across five continents each year in its effort to revive the beauty and values that have enabled Chinese civilization to endure continuously for 5,000 years.
Through vignettes, audiences are presented with Chinese myths, legends, heroes from literature, as well as modern day stories of courage and steadfast faith. Each piece imparts aspects of traditional Chinese culture—such as benevolence, justice, courage, propriety, respect for the divine, and retribution for one’s actions—that, collectively, are China’s cultural essence.
While Shen Yun primarily features classical Chinese, and ethnic and folk dance, audiences also can enjoy an accompanying full, live orchestra as well as vocal and instrumental soloists.
“Oh, I was thrilled that we have a live orchestra. It was magnificent to hear all the instruments, and have them bring in some of the Chinese instruments,” Ms. Eastey said. “The two-string instrument, oh, that was a treat!”
She was referring to the instrumental solo of the erhu, a 4,000-year-old instrument capable of conveying a wide range of emotions.
As a expert pianist, Ms. Eastey couldn’t help but notice the skill of the accompanist to the tenor, baritone, and soprano vocal soloists, who she said was excellent.
Many audience members who watch Shen Yun are moved by the deep spirituality of traditional Chinese culture. This was the case for both Ms. Eastey and Ms. Palmer.
Ms. Eastey felt a commonality between Eastern and Western beliefs.
“They believe in the same things we all believe as human beings: We came from somewhere, and we are going back to some place. It was just a beautiful program, the whole thing and all the stories that they told through dance and music. It’s absolutely wonderful,” she said.
Tears appeared in her eyes as she said, “I was just happy to be here because if she hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have come. It really moved me.”
Ms. Palmer pointed to her face and said, “I have this smile on my face, obviously. I thought it was very moving.” She said she felt connected to the Chinese culture while watching.
While Shen Yun has been creating smiles, connecting people to Chinese culture and achieving widespread, critical acclaim throughout the world, the company cannot perform in China because of the communist regime’s censorship and repression of artistic expression.
“It’s extremely sad that they can’t perform this in China,” Ms. Eastey said.
She said she has hope, though, and referred to the last vignette, which is called “Hope for the Future,” and it portrays spiritual believers who are persecuted for their beliefs. When it seems all hope is lost, higher powers intervene and rescue them. “That was a wonderful way to end” the performance, she said.
Ms. Palmer said she feels that many Americans know about the suffering and persecution happening today in China. “We are praying. Our church is praying,” she said. “We know. We understand what’s going on.”
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.