CLAREMONT, Calif.—Mayor Elliott Rothman and his wife Pam attended Shen Yun Performing Arts’ opening night performance at the Bridges Auditorium on April 8, 2016.
Mayor Rothman has served as Mayor of the City of Pomona since 2008. His long-standing public service for the people in Pomona began 20 years ago. Prior to 2008, he was elected to serve as City Councilmember for Pomona’s District Five in 1996. He is known for being actively involved in his community through his support of local organizations and groups.
“It’s fantastic,” Mayor Rothman said after watching the first half of the performance. “I like the message of religious freedom and Chinese culture, reviving it to a more classical era.”
Traditional Chinese culture is rooted in spirituality and deeply influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s-1970s, the Chinese communist regime has attempted to systematically eradicate traditional Chinese culture, forcing atheism upon the people.
In 2006, a group of leading classical Chinese artists from around the world founded the independent, non-profit Shen Yun Performing Arts with the mission to revive China’s divinely inspired culture, aspiring to share it with the world through storytelling, dance, and music.
Through approximately 20 vignettes, Shen Yun transports audiences on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture and beliefs—from the Yellow Emperor descending from the Heavens to rule the Middle Kingdom, to the Tang and Qing Dynasties, all the way to modern times.
“I like the way they go back in time, being able to pick out different periods and different places,” said Mayor Rothman.
Shen Yun cannot be seen in modern China, where traditional culture has been nearly destroyed by the communist regime, and where artists cannot freely express themselves.
The message of religious freedom that Mayor Rothman spoke of can be seen in the two pieces titled “Monks and the Red Guards” and “The Steadfast Heart.” The latter piece depicts the communist regime’s present-day persecution of believers of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, who ultimately triumph as a result of their peaceful faith.
“The monks fighting off the red guard was very impressive,” said Mayor Rothman, referring to “Monks and the Red Guards.”
A Shen Yun performance encompasses classical, folk, and ethnic dances, accompanied by digital interactive backdrops and a unique live orchestra combining Chinese and Western instruments—add to that solo vocalists and instrumentalists. All of this is enriched by the brilliant colors and textures of the 400 original, handmade costumes.
All aspects of Shen Yun’s performance enthralled Mayor Rothman: “It’s impressive—the silks, the flowing, the whole thing was put together. [I’ll] tell you one thing, having a live orchestra like that in the pit and the tenor, the baritone, the pianist—it’s absolutely breathtaking.”
“They are spectacular,” added Mrs. Rothman. “The way they dance, the flowing, the ride with the music—it’s gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.”
At the heart of a Shen Yun performance is classical Chinese dance, which has been passed down and refined over thousands of years, yet is still little known in the West. Alongside ballet, it is one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world, according to Shen Yun’s website.
Mrs. Rothman had high praise for Shen Yun’s performers, noting that she was in awe of the talented musicians and dancers.
“I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Mayor Rothman, clearly impressed. “I’ve seen everything—I thought—but I haven’t seen that yet. The live music and the dancers are just absolutely fabulous.”
“The show is breathtaking,” concluded Mrs. Rothman. “I really enjoyed it. We go to a lot of theatres and a lot of shows, and this is fantastic. The colors, the music, the dancers are spectacular. I really, really enjoy the whole show. I can’t wait to see the second half.”
Mayor Rothman said he would recommend Shen Yun to everyone.
Reporting by NTD Television, Marie-Paul Baxiu, and Thanh Le
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.