SAN FRANCISCO—Lynn Ponton, psychiatrist and UC San Francisco professor of over 25 years, was filled with hope seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, Jan. 12.
“I enjoyed it very much; I learned a lot from it,” Ms. Ponton said after seeing the performance with her friend Stella Lefevre, a psychologist. Ms. Ponton has had extensive media appearances and is well published in a variety of forms including Newsweek.
Ms. Ponton has visited many areas in China and seen dances performed, but had thought a sense of any spirit was lacking. To her delight, she found the answer in New York-based Shen Yun.
In the classical Chinese dance performed by Shen Yun, Ms. Ponton said she saw spirit come through even in the movements.
“In the movements … in the dance itself maybe the wholeness of the dance, how it’s held together, how the dancers seemed together as a group,” Ms. Ponton said. “Those would be ways I think about it.”
China was once called the land of the divine, but under years of communist rule the traditional culture was almost once lost. Through the performing arts, Shen Yun revives 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, which is said to be inspired by the heavens.
Watching Shen Yun’s performance, Ms. Ponton said she felt hopeful about many things.
“More hopeful about the world in general, and about spiritual thought being communicated in a variety of ways,” Ms. Ponton said. “That was a great thing. More hopeful about mainland China.”
Traditional Chinese culture is deeply spiritual, and the revelation had been new for Ms. Lefevre.
“There’s a side to Chinese culture I wasn’t … at all aware of before,” Ms. Lefevre. “So [I’m] a little bit more aware of that tradition, and the longevity.”
Being from France, Ms. Lefevre said she was at first skeptical she could connect to dance showing the different dynasties of China, but was fully surprised.
“I seem to connect with the dancers in a way,” Ms. Lefevre said.
Classical Chinese dance has been passed down and refined through thousands of years, soaking up the wisdom and values of every dynasty. The deep traditional values of China allow the form to be richly expressive, as Shen Yun explains on its website, and thus allow the performers to portray scenes from any period or setting. In addition to form and technique, classical Chinese dance emphasizes bearing, or “inner spirit.”
“Bearing emphasizes internal spirit, breath, intent, personal aura, and deep emotional expression,” the website states. “In essence, the spirit leads form, so that form is imbued with spirit.”
“The way the dancers seem to enjoy dancing, seem to enjoy just their performance on stage,” Ms. Lefevre said. “I felt connected to that.”
Reporting by Catherine Yang
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.
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.