The performance opens with a legend of China’s creation 5,000 years ago, then stops at several dynasties along the way, and eventually takes viewers all the way to the present—a time when the age-old values of the past are deliberately suppressed by the ruling communist party.
Several of Shen Yun’s dances depict this repression. These dances through history moved David Hoock, a coordinator and supervisor of an agency that works with individuals with brain injury and disability. He saw the performance at Shea’s Performing Arts Center on April 23.
The journey New York-based Shen Yun presented of an ancient culture that spans thousands of years was just amazing, he felt, but these particular dances deeply saddened him.
He was troubled that the Chinese people cannot express their spiritual beliefs, “their normal feelings that everyone has. … I think that’s terrible, not to be able to express what you feel. You should be able to have freedom of expression.”
In the dance “The Steadfast Heart,” for example, a couple who are in the park to meditate are separated when the husband is arrested—simply for his act of meditating. Later he endures horrific torture.
“And that’s very sad. So it is very moving,” Mr. Hoock said.
For Mrs. Veronica Hoock, a nurse, who joined her husband, Shen Yun was like traveling through space—like getting a tour of China, like “getting a little piece of China.” With folk dances from the Himalayas, northern China’s countryside, and the grasslands of Mongolia, “It’s almost like visiting,” she said.
But the spaces visited, she said, extended beyond those one might see a tour to a foreign land. “You see heaven and earth, and below the sea …, and just all the different levels.”
Shen Yun’s aim to present not only the beauty of ancient performing arts, like classical Chinese dance, but also the basis for that ancient culture—its spirituality—made the performance universal for Mrs. Hoock.
All faiths lead people to the Creator, she said, whether Buddhism, Islam, or Judaism, “we are all getting up there one way or another.”
“Everybody believes in a supreme being, and everybody believes in being kind to one another, and that’s the way we are going to get there,” she said.
Her husband agreed: “It comes down to how you live your life, and … doing the right thing for people, … whether through your job, or your family, you do the right thing. And we are all going to get there, and there is a lot more to see, even after this life.”
These values of doing the right thing, of helping one another were what the couple saw in the stories. Mrs. Hoock mentioned the tale of the husband and wife of “The Steadfast Heart,” who, as a couple, helped each other. Another dance, about the classic literary figure the Monkey King, also brought good deeds to mind, she said. The Monkey King wanted a weapon in order to save his people and be a good leader.
Mr Hoock said, “The values are really family values, and your upbringing, and just your true beliefs, and you should be able to share those.”
“I am just thrilled. I am thrilled to be here, just amazed, really am,” he said.
Reporting by Sally Sun and Sharon Kilarski
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.