BERKELEY, Calif.—When business owner Gregg Berman and his companion, Joy Chiu, went to see Shen Yun Performing Arts together, Chiu didn’t know what to expect at first. In fact, she didn’t even know where they were going.
Berman took Chiu to experience Shen Yun as a surprise gift. They enjoyed the performance of classical Chinese dance at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, California, on Dec. 14.
“Masterful,” Chiu said of the dancers’ skills.
Chiu was moved to tears, her voice sometimes catching as she described how she felt about Shen Yun.
“One of the things that moves me to tears about the performance is how much I feel the difference between when the divine is being transmitted through the performance, versus just an entertainment act or a show,” she said.
Shen Yun is a New York-based performing arts company, and its mission is to revive China’s 5,000 years of history and culture through dance and music. A central idea in traditional Chinese culture is a belief in the divine.
Therefore, many of Shen Yun’s dance pieces depict scenes of heaven, divine beings, or fairies, as well as ancient Chinese myths and legends. Chiu and Berman appreciated seeing this divinity portrayed onstage.
“The energy is being transmitted, and it’s really powerful,” said Chiu.
According to Shen Yun’s website, China’s ancient culture is known as “divinely inspired,” as there is a belief that the divine transmitted this culture to humans. Chiu and Berman felt this connection was something we could still experience in the modern day.
“The divine is around us all the time. We’ve become so blinded to it in modern life, and so it’s nice to be reminded of it,” said Berman.
Each year, Shen Yun’s touring companies travel the world with an all-new program of dance pieces and vocal and instrumental music.
Connecting to Heaven and Earth
Berman, who owns the company In Connection With Nature, is a wilderness guide who helps people enjoy the therapeutic effects of being in nature. He appreciated the scenery depicted on Shen Yun’s unique digital backdrop, which he said was “evoking earth wisdom.”
He admired the way the dancers interacted with the backdrop. Shen Yun’s animated backdrop depicts scenes from both ancient and modern China, including natural scenery such as lakes and Mongolian grasslands.
“The combination of the whole theme and the skill level, what the story and the spirit evoke, make me want to travel the earth and connect more to the planet in different places,” said Berman.
In addition to earthly landscapes, the backdrop also depicts heavenly realms. For example, in the opening dance piece, the Creator calls on divine beings to descend to Earth and form the Chinese civilization. Chiu admired the beauty of this scene.
“From the opening piece, I felt very strongly connected to the story of bringing heaven to earth, or heaven being expressed on earth,” said Chiu. “It was depicted through the dancers, through the costuming, through the backdrop. All of it worked together, I thought, to transmit that first story. And I feel like the entire performance is weaving that together.”
She said she would definitely recommend Shen Yun to her friends.
“I personally enjoy being able to experience the difference between talent and what is channeled from spirit. And I feel that the performers here are not just performers, but they are actually transmitting the divine. That is the reason why I would recommend seeing this show, and why I think it differs from other dance performances,” she said.
With reporting by Gary Wang and Sally Appert.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.