SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—In the face of beauty, Irene Engelsiepen often finds herself brought to tears. At the Granada Theatre on April 29, that was her exact reaction after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts with her daughter Linda, as a birthday gift.
“Of course I think it’s extraordinary, and I’m so glad my daughter thought to bring me, and I cried,” Mrs. Engelsiepen said. “When I see something beautiful, that’s what I do, I cry.”
Ms. Linda Engelsiepen, who writes screenplays for video and TV movies, had seen New York-based Shen Yun several years ago with a friend, and remembered the beauty and spiritual essence of the performance when she saw it again.
Images of Buddha appeared in the performance, and the culture showed a nature of connection and kindness.
“I think it’s just very much about connecting with people but being your own human being, and treating people right, you know? So I like that,” Ms. Engelsiepen said.
The classical Chinese dance company uses this dance form and music as its vehicle to tell stories of China’s 5,000-year civilization. China was once known as the Celestial Empire, and its culture is said to have been divinely inspired.
The image of Buddha appears in a retelling of China’s creation myth, and in a dance celebrating the sighting of the Udumbara flower, which is said to signal the return of “The Holy King Who Turns the Wheel” and blooms only once every 3,000 years. The Lady of the Moon displays kindness to a fallen fairy, and an old Buddhist monk tries to connect with the youth recruited to destroy temples during the Cultural Revolution in China.
Yet all this is something you can’t see in China today.
Ms. Engelsiepen said it was, in a way, more than entertainment for audiences. They were getting to see the real cultural background, and something “forbidden in China.”
Since communism took power in 1949, it has sought to destroy traditional culture and beliefs. Shen Yun states in its mission its wish to revive this culture, and share it with the world once again.
So for Ms. Engelsiepen, this created an awareness. With hope and time, maybe it could make a difference in China, she had as a thought. After all, it is difficult to create change, but people love to see beautiful things—like Shen Yun.
“I’m really happy they’re able to bring it here,” Ms. Engelsiepen said. “I think it’s important to maintain that … I think it’s important for it to happen there, in China.”
Reporting by Yaning Liu 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.