GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—“The choreography is phenomenal,” said Kay Danby, who was once a part of the theater and a dancer: “The dramatic is definitely there. They’re telling a story through dance, which is often difficult to do because it’s physical language, as opposed to spoken language, which is an interesting way to communicate, and I think they’re doing a wonderful job of that.”
Mrs. Danby was describing a performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts, a company that showcases two kinds of dance: classical Chinese dance, which is a vehicle for presenting the history, legends and myths of China, and folk dance, which highlights China’s many ethnic minorities.
Mrs. Danby attended the performance with her husband, Charles, who bought tickets as both a birthday and Valentine’s present for her. The couple saw Shen Yun at the DeVos Performance Hall on Feb. 12.
“It is a fantastic experience in a culture that I don’t know that much about,” said Mrs. Danby, who has retired from teaching and working as a speech pathologist.
“It’s fantastic! The color, the movement, the expression of the culture—it’s beautiful!” said Mr. Danby, who once owned a business marketing products to the automotive industry.
Shen Yun, based in New York, is a company devoted to revitalizing 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.
Mrs. Danby applauded this mission: “Good for them! I think that they’re probably fighting a culture that is difficult to fight.”
She was referring to the fact that Shen Yun is not allowed into China, the country of its cultural origin. The communist regime has long sought to destroy China’s traditional arts and values.
“I do not envy them in their quest, but I also am very proud of them,” Mrs. Danby said. “I hope that they continue … that makes it even more precious, and I think, ‘Good for them!’ because it’s very easy to give up in the face of things.”
Mr. Danby likened the Shen Yun mission to preserving a species form extinction.
“What hit me, and it just dawned on me watching the show, because the effort here is an attempt to revive a culture and the loss of a culture is like the loss of a species and that really hit home with me. It’s tragedy to lose a species just as it is a tragedy to lose a culture,” Mr. Danby said.
“Or a part of the art of the culture,” Mrs. Danby added.
Mrs. Danby was impressed by the athleticism required by classical Chinese dance, a system which includes flips, spins and leaps.
“I think what is outstanding is their ability, as well as their sense of theater, and I think they’re very audience perceptive.
“I think they’re working very hard on audience appeal, and they’re doing a good job,” she said.
Mr. Danby loved the digitally animated backdrops, for which Shen Yun is renowned. This effect makes figures on the backdrop seemingly come to life as they reappear as dancers onstage. “The visual effect is what hit me. The fading of what’s going on, on the stage into the screen, and disappearing, I’ve never seen anything like that! It’s very effective and very impressive!” he said.
“It’s a phenomenal program,” Mrs. Danby said.
Reporting by Joan Wang and Sharon Kilarski
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.