KANSAS CITY, Mo.—People leave artistic performances inspired in different ways. For Dr. Jim Elkins, his wife, Marty Milburn, and daughter Lindy Milburn, Shen Yun Performing Arts inspired clarity.
Mrs. Milburn, a retired nurse who has pursued many things during her retirement, such as teaching classical ballet, explained how grateful she was that there was someone out there who made this quality of cultural exchange, as seen in Shen Yun, possible. She teaches at an adult wellness center, teaching dance and helping people realize their dreams.
In Shen Yun she saw what she already believed: that dance can carry the essence of a culture, and function like a language.
“And it is such an important part of our soul to have a language, to communicate your soulful essence,” Mrs. Milburn said. “That’s what I see here in a cultural level and I’m so grateful that someone is supporting and disseminating this.”
The family saw New York-based Shen Yun at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on April 3. The dance performed is classical Chinese dance, a form almost 5,000 years old, and indeed a reflection of China’s rich cultural essence. As Shen Yun explains on its website, classical Chinese dance developed through the milennia, soaking up wisdom from every dynasty. In essence, it has what the artists call the DNA of the culture, embedded in the movement.
For Mrs. Milburn, it showed that we all possess a soulful essence, “and that we all need that feeding of our true essence.”
External influences can burden us, but this, what Shen Yun shows and does, “wipes away the dust of the less than perfect world in which we live,” she said.
Dr. Elkins said he couldn’t agree more.
“The moves were magnificient. The posture, the training that goes into this performance is just amazing, just amazing,” he said. Through dance, Shen Yun had described China to him over its long history. “It just revs up your soul and let’s you know that we are all humans, and we live in the world equally.”
Ms. Milburn, a former ballerina and accountant who was visiting from Oklahoma, saw beauty in the performers’ technical mastery, acrobatic abilities, and the overall setting and production.
Part of classical Chinese dance is technical mastery of difficult tumbling moves. Gymnastics and acrobatics, as we know them today, evolved from this dance form, as Shen Yun’s emcees explained.
But most important to Ms. Milburn was what the artists were trying to convey to audiences all over the world. “I learned a lot through this experience and this performance,” she said. “And I have a much deeper appreciation for the struggles that are currently going on there and the people here that can share and teach others about it.”
Mrs. Milburn agreed and elaborated, explaining that the storyline began thousands of years ago, but that important cultural essence was lost through recent oppression.
This oppression came in the form of the communist regime, which took power in 1949 and had systematically sought to uproot the traditional culture and beliefs since.
So in Shen Yun he saw a “yearning to be able to regain that, not lose that, and spread it to others.”
It was not just the Chinese culture, but an essence of humanity that applied to people of any cultural background, Mrs. Milburn thought. We have lost track of who we are, but Shen Yun reminds of “the divine spark within us.”
“I think that’s kind of an eternal message. Certainly all the world can hear that.”
“Beautifully done, amazingly performed, and I’ll remember it always,” she said. “It’s not to be missed.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Catherine Yang
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.