WASHINGTON—Basically everyone who sees Shen Yun Performing Arts likes it. Most people love it. Then there are some people, like Dr. Karyn Trader-Leigh, who are simply blown away and can speak at length on what, precisely, captivated them about the performance.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture.
Dr. Trader-Leigh, the President and CEO of KTA Global Partners, a management consulting firm in the District of Columbia, saw Shen Yun at the Kennedy Center on March 28.
As her husband—smartly dressed with a jacket and pocket square—stood nearby, drawing on his pipe, Ms. Trader-Leigh proceeded to describe in detail her enjoyment of the show.
“If you are a Chinese parent and your family has been here for generations, or not long, this is a wonderful opportunity to give your children your historic culture. So I really like that opportunity to do that.
“Then there’s also the opportunity to expose other people to the history of the Chinese culture. I like the pieces around nature. I like the pieces around the spiritual culture, the values and the value system, and the role that that has played throughout the culture. And then of course it’s interesting, you get a sort of juxtaposition of current, modern China when you see the battle around how they regard the Falun Dafa, and some of the … I’ve been to China a couple of times, and there’s this interesting choice and freedom, and the role of spiritual development and control, and the struggles of a society. You get a snapshot on some of those issues in that last piece.
“Then there’s the artistic beauty there. It’s intriguing and fascinating, the artistic value of the backdrop and how they interweave the dance and the theater, so someone literally pops out of the screen, the way they have created that and created context, what’s going on in the heavens and in the spirit world, and how it plays into the earth and into consciousness. It’s … you almost have to parse through and think about what you’re seeing, because there’s a lot of communication on a lot of different levels, about life, about spiritual evolution and development there.
“I like the piece on Tibet. I loved the playfulness of the monks, and what life is like in a cloistered life. It made me think of life before television in terms of how we entertained ourselves, the rich pageantry, all of those kinds of things.
“The other thing that struck me with respect to history was that history is often told from the eyes of the wealthy and palaces and kingships, so I was glad to see a piece on an ethnic subgroup, that was important. Then there was the Tibetan piece, especially when you know what goes on between China and Tibet. It was nice to see in the context of this whole event those different pieces and stories.”
The executive mused about the values portrayed in the performance.
“There are a lot of values. There’s the aesthetic around beauty and order. When you see the structure of the dance and it communicates to me something about order, and order in the universe, and bringing order out of chaos. That comes through, for me, through the dancers. The dance process, the structure of dance as a way of storytelling about a culture’s history and the way that that is presented. It is telling you something about order in the universe, order from the heavens.
“There is a storytelling about reincarnation. The thing that went through my head was: what gives a person the opportunity to incarnate in a certain culture, in a certain land, in a certain place, and have a certain role in that world, about a message you are given to bring and show up with. I don’t mean to get so ethereal here, but it made me think about those things.
“The value of community, the piece with the ethnic group in Sichuan. You don’t always hear about ethnic groups in China, except the Han people—which is everybody. So to hear about community and rural life and peasant life, and the role of dance and culture in sustaining that. So that’s a value, community as value. Those kinds of things are the kinds of things that were parsing through my brain as I observed and watched this.”
Dr. Trader-Leigh spoke about the beauty in the performance.
“Well that’s replete through this. The use of colors, the dancers, the body movement. The fluidity and flow in the body movement. That’s a form of beauty and communicates beauty. The use of space; not just the movement, but the space one creates in design around and with everyone, that’s a form of beauty. Color is beauty. So the artistic design … and then there’s something about, there’s a whole aesthetic that is just the role that beauty plays in life. I don’t know how to say it. It’s almost like beauty has a spiritual purpose. Nature. There’s lots of nature there, when you see the mountains of China. It made me think about how different the earth is.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform at The Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, D.C., through April 1.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org