WASHINGTON—Greg Mitchell, president of a government relations and lobbying firm, was uplifted after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts with his wife in Washington, D.C.
“I loved it,” he said.
“I actually want to bring my kids, its beautiful, and aesthetic and it took me out of the stress of my job. It was a beautiful experience.”
Mitchell’s wife, Renee Bessone, a former professional dancer, did not know what to expect out of the performance, but was ultimately mesmerized by the dancing and stories.
“It was beautiful and it educates you,” Bessone said.
The couple saw the performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House on April 18.
The New York-based classical Chinese dance company is currently touring the world showcasing traditional Chinese culture through the arts. Its two-hour long program includes classical Chinese dance vignettes, musical soloists, and stories drawn from China’s 5,000-year history told through dance.
Mitchell founded The Mitchell Firm, a government lobby firm focused on securing people’s rights and freedoms. He is also the managing co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, an informal group of individuals from non-government organizations who gather to discuss issues relating to religious freedom on a non-attribution basis, according to its website.
The couple both appreciated Shen Yun dancers’ skill and precision.
“The dancers are top notch, they are highly trained and masters of their art,” Mitchell said.
Bessone mentioned that she usually struggles to stay focused during performances, but here she just couldn’t keep her eyes off the dancers.
“It’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous,” she said of the classical Chinese dancers.
“I can tell that it was so technical.”
As a former ballerina, Bessone saw some elements like ballet in the dance, but appreciated the unique qualities of traditional Chinese dance.
Besides the dancing, the modern-day stories about communist suppression of faith deeply affected the couple.
“It drives it home that the communist party is coming in and crushing a peaceful community and peace-loving divine beings,” Mitchell said.
“The communist party is coming in and crushing you for no reason basically.”
“I really got the absurdity of it and how totally evil it is. There is no reason for it and you really get that.”
Mitchell was referring to the persecution of practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Dafa by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is depicted in Shen Yun’s performance.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, was banned by the CCP in 1999 after it surged in popularity in China with around 70 million people practicing by the end of the the decade. The resulting crackdown has resulted in waves of practitioners harassed, imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for their faith.
Bessone, who previously did not know about this persecution, was also moved seeing Shen Yun’s portrayal of these real-life events, saying she was almost teary-eyed at the end of the performance.
Mitchell appreciated how the closing story titled “The Final Moment,” which portrays a group of practitioners being targeted by the CCP, ends with a message of hope.
“I loved seeing … [when] the divine comes and overcomes the evil,” he said.
“[It] uplifts you into something more divine.”
With reporting by Lisa Fan.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.