PHOENIX—Shen Yun Performing Arts again graced the stage of the Orpheum Theatre on April 3 in front of a captivated audience. Among them were interior designer Anna Marie Timlin, accompanied by her brother Jim.
“It was exquisite. It was a kaleidoscope of colors, costumes, and sceneries. It was inspirational. It was historical … all those things in one show,” gushed Anna Marie Timlin after watching the performance.
“The musicality, the orchestra, and the choreography were just amazing. Just mind-blowing,” she said.
Shen Yun performance consists of 20 vignettes that are accompanied by a digital backdrop to set the scene, a live orchestra consisting of a unique blend of Eastern and Western instruments to set the tone, and 400 original and handcrafted costume pieces in brilliant colors used almost in a prop-like way to adorn dancers who perform classical Chinese dance, as well as ethnic and folk dances.
“Through the universal language of music and dance, Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired,” according to the Shen Yun website.
Considering herself being a spiritual person, Ms. Timlin said she felt connected with the spiritual aspect of traditional Chinese culture portrayed through the performance. She felt herself in tune with “the Chinese view on nature, holistic body, mind and soul, being one, and meditation.”
Traditional Chinese culture is rooted in spirituality, and was deeply influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. The ancient Chinese believed in harmony between heaven, earth, and humankind. This is at the heart of the culture, but this culture was nearly destroyed under the Chinese communist regime.
In 2006, a group of distinguished classical Chinese artists from around the world founded the independent, nonprofit Shen Yun Performing Arts in New York. It aimed to revive and share with the world traditional Chinese culture through the arts.
Ms. Timlin was deeply moved, and almost overwhelmed by the majesty of traditional Chinese culture. She said it is unthinkable that the Chinese communist regime has suppressed “thousands and thousands of years of wisdom.”
“People still fight for art, and the communist government wants to take all that beauty away from the people, [does] not let them practice their meditation, and this whole performance could never [perform] in China,” she said.
“I do not understand why anybody would want to take that away from its own people—It’s inhumane.”
Ms. Timlin was referring to two dance vignettes called “The Steadfast Heart” and “Hope for the Future” that are set in modern China. Practitioners of Falun Dafa, a spiritual meditation practice that espouses truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance are arrested, and tortured, imprisoned for their beliefs.
‘An energy that talks to your spirit’
At the heart of a Shen Yun performance is classical Chinese dance. “Known for its incredible flips and spins and its gentle elegance, it is one of the most rigorous and expressive art forms in the world,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
Ms. Timlin was impressed with the history of classical Chinese dance, and ethnic and folk dance.
The Shen Yun website explains that there is an inextricable connection between the arts and heaven: “Throughout history, almost every culture looked toward the divine for inspiration. Today, Shen Yun’s artists-dancers, musicians, choreographers, and composers, and the entire team-follow this noble tradition. For them, this spiritual connection is the motivation for striving to excel, is the heart behind each movement of the dancer and each note of the musician. It is why audiences can feel there is something different about Shen Yun.”
Ms. Timlin could feel the energy from Shen Yun’s dancers penetrating into her soul. “It was just such an energy that talks to your spirit.”
She said Shen Yun is “a phenomenal spiritual, visual journey,” which left her with a feeling of joy.
Ms Timlin thanked her brother, Jim, for taking her to see Shen Yun, and said, “I’m going to go on Facebook afterwards and recommend it.”
Also enjoying Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Orpheum Theatre on April 3 was Dr. Ellen Poole. “It is very uplifting, and it gives you a small picture of a window to Chinese culture that we don’t usually get to see,” she said.
Dr. Ellen Poole is a professor of nursing at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Phoenix campus, and the president of the Chamberlain College of Nursing Honor Society, Phi Pi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International. Her impressive credentials consist of over 35 years of experience in the nursing profession, including practice, instruction, and research. She also served on the faculty of the online graduate nursing degree program at Kaplan University.
Dr. Poole said she felt very elevated, relaxed, and enjoyed every minute while watching the performance.
She relished all of its aspects, including the artistry, traditional Chinese culture, and its spirituality. “I like them all. To take out one particular performance is really hard, I think.”
“Wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” Dr. Poole said.
Dr. Poole was impressed with the two-stringed erhu played by Xiaochun Qi. “That was certainly very unique, and that’s certainly, again, nothing I have been exposed to before.”
The erhu, also known as the Chinese violin, is one of the most important Chinese instruments, with a history of over 4,000 years. Incredibly expressive, it is capable of conveying a wide range of deep emotions.
Dr. Poole marveled at Shen Yun’s dancers, and how light they are on their feet. “They appear to float. … It is very unique.”
But her richest experience came from her enjoyment of seeing Shen Yun’s presentation of traditional Chinese culture “that people do not get to hear about … and that there is a true interest in revival.”
“It is certainly inspirational and spiritual,” said Dr. Poole.
She said she was surprised to learn from Shen Yun’s performance that traditional Chinese culture hold similar spiritual ideas.
Dr. Poole said she would tell everyone to go to Shen Yun to see traditional Chinese culture and the artistry. “Go see it. See it for yourself.”
Reporting by Marie-Paul Baxiu, NTD Television and Thanh Le
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.