Shen Yun: ‘Like nothing else I’ve ever seen’ Former NASA Mission Control Engineer
HOUSTON—The first half of the performance by Shen Yun Performing Arts was full of very pleasant surprises for Renee and Steve Hernandez.
Ms. Hernandez, who used to work in mission control at NASA said she had been trying to describe the performance to her son but had nothing to compare it to.
“I was trying to explain to him that it’s just like nothing I have ever seen before, and how amazing the dancers were and how colorful their costumes were, and just how much we are enjoying it,” she said at intermission during a performance in Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, Dec. 30.
“Tonight’s performance has been amazing. The dancers are incredibly powerful. It’s just incredible to see their movements … It’s left me speechless,” she said.
Shen Yun is a classical Chinese dance company. Based in New York, it was founded with the mission to revive China’s traditional culture through the performing arts and performances include dances that retell stories from ancient myths and classic Chinese literature.
Ms. Hernandez was impressed at how these complex story lines were made clear through dance and Shen Yun’s state of the art animated backdrop.
“The screen behind the dancers is just incredible. I’ve been very impressed by that, it’s so realistic,” she said.
She particularly liked the piece Capturing Arrows With Boats of Straw that depicts a brilliant strategy used in battle between three great armies at the end of China’s Han Dynasty.
“That one … really captured my imagination mainly because I just thought it was a very clever way to defeat your enemy and the personification of it on the screen and by the dancers I thought was amazing, they were right on.”
Both she and Mr. Hernandez said that the bilingual emcees also helped them understand the plots and connect with what was happening onstage.
“We probably wouldn’t connect with it as well [without the emcees], so we like that a lot,” he said.
Mr. Hernandez, also a former NASA employee, is now the director of quality for an aviation company.
He said one dance that particularly struck him depicted the kindness of practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Dafa in the face of persecution by Chinese Communist Party police.
Falun Dafa practitioners have been persecuted for their beliefs in China since 1999. The crimes against them are among the most underreported human rights violations in the world, due to China’s censorship.
“The last performance—[The Power of] Compassion, makes me want to go educate myself more on what’s going on in China. It’s not something we’re used to seeing in our press all the time, so it inspires us to go look into it and learn more about it,” he said.
Mrs. Hernandez said the music really drew her into this piece as well.
“I really felt that one,” she said.
“It’s an emotional kind of feeling, where you feel like you’re a part of the story.”
The music played during Shen Yun performances is composed for the unique Shen Yun Orchestra that combines both Western and traditional Chinese instruments.
“The music sounds like it’s been pre-recorded—it’s so perfect. The orchestra is just excellent,” Mr. Hernandez said.
“The orchestra is just incredible, just amazing. The music helps you feel what the dancers are trying to portray,” Ms. Hernandez said.
She also enjoyed a bel canto opera piece sung in Chinese.
“I was reading the subtitles on the screen and I got goose bumps when I knew what he was trying to sing and his voice was just amazing. I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Both said the performance made them curious to experience more Chinese culture.
“It makes you want to know more,” Mr. Hernandez said.
“We’re looking forward to the second half.”