KANSAS CITY, Mo.—John and Connie Laurie were awestruck by Shen Yun Performing Arts International Company’s two-hour dance and music production, showcasing 5,000 years of ancient Chinese civilization. It was a new experience for them, at Music Hall on May 5.
The Lauries had seen dance in Russia and Europe but had never seen classical Chinese dance. “It’s all new to me,” said Mr. Laurie, a retired high school principal, ” and we are enjoying it very much … it is beautiful.”
Classical Chinese dance is relatively unknown in the United States, yet it is thousands of years old and the basis for modern-day gymnastics and acrobatics, according to the company website. It is a distinct dance system with expressive movements and postures, which are perfect for storytelling.
“Although I am not a dancer, I appreciate just the physical attributes they have to be able to do what they are doing.”
“I like the way they have gone from the beginning, back 5,000 [years], and bringing it forward. It’s very nice. It’s very entertaining, but it’s also historical,” said Mr. Laurie.
Traditional Chinese culture is steeped with spirituality and associated values told through beloved myths, legends, and characters. The spirituality comes through the performance, said Mr. Laurie. “I am happy to see that …”
The couple selected their seats on the second row to watch the Shen Yun Orchestra as well as the performers on stage. “Beautiful, very attentive, very professional. The entire thing is professional in capital letters,” said Mr. Laurie.
The orchestra is unique as it brings the power of the Western symphony and masterfully combines it with the expressive nature of traditional Eastern instruments.
“We are down close because [my wife] can feel the vibration [of the music] more than anything,” he explained, saying she is deaf and that she is most comfortable when she is reading lips.
“I can feel quite a bit, and I enjoyed watching,” said Mrs. Laurie. “You can enjoy it without hearing anything.”
Mr. Laurie would recommend Shen Yun to anyone. It appeals to all ages, as he observed. They are a retired couple yet next to them were young children who were equally engaged in the performance. “So, it’s a family program, very entertaining,” he said.
Shen Yun ‘It gives me spring’
Among the audience was Kansas City born and raised Jacques Simmons, who like Mr. Laurie highly recommends Shen Yun for its uniqueness and beauty.
“A must see, and bring a friend,” he said.
“Absolutely incredible, absolutely beautiful,” were Mr. Simmons’ initial expressions to describe Shen Yun’s music, and danced stories of ancient Chinese culture.
“First time attending,” he said.
According to the company website, “A Shen Yun performance features the world’s foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops—together creating one spectacular performance.”
Mr. Simmons elaborated on what enlightening and inspiring meant to him: “It gives a very, very vivid depiction of what spring may be like. You know coming from this particular genre of music, it gives me spring, it gives me new, it gives me life. It’s really nice, I love it.”
By intermission he felt that “thus far, it’s very, very moving. I enjoyed the women most with the beautiful dresses and gowns. Their faces on the stage just glow,” he said.
Shen Yun’s mission is to bring back “humanity’s treasure, which was nearly lost [through the communist regime’s Cultural Revolution], through breathtaking music and dance,” states the company’s website.
“I totally respected it,” said Mr. Simmons. “I think its necessary. It’s good to know your heritage and your culture, and, where other people come from. It definitely interests me. I want to know more.”
He saw traditional Chinese culture as being absolutely relevant to the present day.
Reporting by Cat Rooney
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006