NEW YORK—A full house was awed by China’s cultural heritage on Wednesday night, as the curtain rose to thunderous applause for Shen Yun Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. It was the first of a seven-show run of nearly sold-out performances.
“I think the show is incredible and it’s long overdue,” said Ed Maldonado, who works for U.S. Homeland Security, during the intermission. “The Chinese community in the United States has been a big part [of it], and to see it like this on a big stage—I love it,” he said.
The world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company, Shen Yun boasts three companies, which tour the world. In January five performances at Lincoln Center were entirely sold out.
Shen Yun, which cannot perform inside China, has the mission of reviving its 5,000-year-old culture after much traditional culture was destroyed by the Chinese regime during the Cultural Revolution.
Recently in Taiwan, many mainland Chinese flew in to see Shen Yun, which performed for 37 full-houses over 33 days, from March to April. The New York audience also included mainland Chinese who flew in to see the show.
“We have seen an interesting phenomenon that not only in Taiwan, but even here [in New York], we have people flying in from China,” reported Pia-Maria Norris, a spokesperson with Shen Yun Promotions International.
Ms. Norris said she met a couple that came all the way from Switzerland to see the New York performance because they missed it in Switzerland.
“Every program was wonderful” said Mr. Xi, a professor living in Hong Kong, after seeing a performance in Taiwan, according to the Shen Yun website. “This is true Chinese culture,” said Mr. Xi.
“They have such a huge group, and they’re so perfect. It’s amazing,” said Mrs. Jill Maldonado. Classical Chinese dance follows the movement of breath, according to a video playing in the David H. Koch Theater lobby at Lincoln Center; every pause, gesture, flip, turn, or jump is precise and full of meaning. In its early years, it was passed down primarily in the imperial court and as part of ancient theater, according to the Shen Yun website.
Ms. Maldonado, a producer for Channel 13 said the colors and precision of the dancers was, “almost overwhelming.”
“The China of yesterday is represented by Shen Yun and I hope that it will also be the China of tomorrow,” wrote Mr. Edward McMillan-Scott, British Member of Parliament and vice president of the European Parliament, in a congratulatory letter to welcome Shen Yun on its 2012 European tour in March.
Darnley Simon, a community coordinator for Housing Preservation & Development, felt she was transported from New York to the China of yore.
“It’s taking you back on a historical journey,” said Ms. Simon, “You feel like you’re over there, like you’re over there when it is happening.”
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.