COSTA MESA, Calif.—Vikram Rao missed the Shen Yun Performing Arts’ performance in San Diego. So he decided to travel to Segerstrom Center for the Arts to see Costa Mesa’s final performance on April 17.
Mr. Rao is a research associate at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, working to develop assay measuring small molecule activity eventually to be used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
He said his great-uncle, who passed away two weeks ago, had traveled from Dana Point to Los Angeles to see Shen Yun last year. His great-uncle recommended Shen Yun to him.
Based in New York, the independent, nonprofit Shen Yun Performing Arts was founded in 2006 by a group of leading artists from around the world. It aims to revive traditional Chinese culture that has nearly been destroyed under the Chinese communist regime. It now has four companies touring the globe to perform an all-new program each season.
Mr. Rao was deeply moved by Shen Yun’s performance, and, in particular, the lyrics sung by the soloists: “I thought [the lyrics] are really powerful. They really speak to you on an emotional level.”
In addition to classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun also features bel canto soloists. The lyrics of all original works are brimming with philosophical reflection about human life, according to the program.
“There was one act where they talked about death and reincarnation. That spoke really well to me. I felt my uncle was right there next to me watching the show. I teared up a little bit,” Mr. Rao said.
He was referring to the lyrics of baritone Qu Yue’s song, “What You Are Here For,” projected behind the singer.
Mr. Rao’s belief in reincarnation—similar to the traditional Chinese culture and beliefs—made the performance he watched doubly significant.
China was known as the “Celestial Kingdom,” a unique land where the divine and mortals coexisted. The ancient Chinese believed that Chinese culture was brought down from the heavens. This divinely inspired culture had been passed on for 5,000 years until the Chinese communist regime decided to uproot it.
But Shen Yun has taken up the mission to restore this nearly lost tradition. Through 20 vignettes, audiences are taken on a journey through China’s culture and beliefs, where myths and legends come to life, and virtues such as bravery, compassion, kindness, loyalty, and perseverance are personified.
Mr. Rao was touched when watching the stories depicted in the performance. He said, “I went through a mixture of sadness, and then happiness.”
The sadness he felt came from the hunger for power depicted in a vignette called “Defending the Throne,” and also dances about oppression due to the communist regime in “The Steadfast Heart” and “Hope for the Future” set in modern China, where Falun Dafa practitioners are arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for their beliefs.
Falun Dafa is a spiritual meditation practice that espouses truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. The persecution of Falun Dafa is ongoing.
Mr. Rao enjoyed the message of hope conveyed in the performance.
“One thing I took from the show is that even though there was a storm of darkness, there can be even the smallest pinhole of light that sees [one] through. That pinhole is emerging with goodness, and triumphs over evil. That’s the main message I took from the show,” he said. “Even in times of hardship, I think that the Creator does come through after all.”
But that was not all. Mr. Rao was impressed by the artistry of Shen Yun’s performance. Mr. Rao said he could see the full-blown view of the stage from his seat in the fourth row.
“It was amazing. It’s very colorful, exuberant, and very aesthetically pleasing for the eyes. It was a wonderful performance overall, and I was fascinated by the different kinds of attire the dancers [wore],” he said.
Mr. Rao expressed his appreciation to Shen Yun’s performers for their hard work.
Loving Shen Yun so much, he said he would see it again if it were not Costa Mesa’s final performance.
He will recommend Shen Yun to all his friends, “including those who do not appreciate art so that they can probably change their mind and regain a different sense of what they perceive to be very good art and a very good theater performance.”
Reporting by 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.