“All of it really—the dancing, costumes, everything, said Mr. Dengler. “It was all excellent.”
Mrs. Dengler agreed saying, “The meaning behind [it], the dancing—it was just really fantastic.”
Shen Yun, a New York-based company, is dedicated to restoring China’s traditional culture after communist rule nearly destroyed it, according to the Shen Yun website. Classical Chinese dance, at the heart of the performance, is almost as ancient as China’s 5,000-year history.
“It has become a complete system of dance embodying traditional aesthetic principles with its unique dance movements, rhythms, and inner meaning,” the website says.
Mrs Dengler, a senior account administrator at Weill Cornell Medical College of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, was impressed with Shen Yun’s music, which is composed in-house and performed live by the 40-member Shen Yun orchestra.
“The orchestra was fantastic,” she said. “How they integrated both the Chinese and the classical Western [instruments] that he talked about on stage, was just amazing.”
The “he” Mrs. Dengler referred to is one of Shen Yun’s Masters of Ceremonies, who explains each performance bilingually to give cultural detail and historical context.
Mr. Dengler, an iron worker who has been helping build the Freedom Tower on the former World Trade Center site, noted the statement about freedom in the show.
“I have read a lot of articles about the oppression in China,” he said. “Hopefully those days would be over soon. It’s a shame that people in China cannot see this show.”
“Shen Yun’s mission is to revive the 5,000 year old, divinely inspired culture of China,” according to the company’s website. “Unfortunately, over the past 60 years, this cultural treasure has been persecuted and co-opted by the Chinese Communist Party. It is outside of China that Shen Yun’s artistic creators have the ability to freely express themselves and their ancient culture. Their courage to speak up is an integral part of Shen Yun’s spirit.”
Along with stories of ancient China, Shen Yun includes several contemporary dances depicting the modern day situation of Falun Gong practitioners, the mediation practice based on truthfulness, compassion and tolerance, persecuted for their faith in China today.
Mrs. Dengler agreed that freedom is important in modern China, saying it was “it’s something that needs to be shared to everyone.”
“It shows a lot of the artistry is oppressed in China, freedom to express oneself,” she said. “We think that it’s terrible.”
The performance is one everyone should see, concluded Mr. Dengler, who said “we recommend it to all of our family and friends.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Lillian Chang.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Upcoming performances in the United States include Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 24, and Columbus, Ohio, on April 26 and April 27.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.