ST. LOUIS—”I’ve always wanted to come, and I’ve heard about it for a number of years … and I’m sorry that I haven’t made it until this time,” said Monte Johnson about Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Mr. Johnson, a screen printer and owner of a t-shirt company and Mimi Colbin, an administrative law assistant, came to see the evening performance of Shen Yun at the Peabody Opera House on Feb. 15.
Shen Yun seeks to revive traditional Chinese culture through performing arts. Its performance includes 20 or so segments that feature classical Chinese dance, solo vocalists, a full-orchestra, and digital backdrops.
Mr. Johnson said, “I loved it. The costuming was excellent and all the musical numbers were really, really good.”
“The choreography was amazing,” Ms. Colbin stated. “I really liked a lot of the props and the dual uses that they had for the flowers and the scarves and different things that could be used like three or four different ways in the same dance.”
“I thought that was really amazing,” she added.
Besides working at a law firm, Ms. Colbin also has a degree in fashion design. “I’ve always loved Asian costumes, the color coordination that they do and but specifically the light super flowing silks that just float on the air. It was beautiful,” she said.
Mr. Johnson mentioned, “I loved the dancing, but I’m particular to the music. There was an instrument used in one of the numbers, a stringed instrument that I can’t remember what it was called, but it was amazing.”
Unlike any other orchestra in the world, the Shen Yun orchestra features both Eastern and Western instruments as permanent instrumentation. One Eastern instrument that stands out in particular is the erhu, or two-stringed Chinese violin.
Speaking of the erhu, Mr. Johnson said, “I loved the sound of it. A lot of sounds you get with that instrument, you can’t get with any others.”
“It’s really, really powerful though. It was piano and a string instrument and to get that kind of sound, and that kind of like emotion and power out of two instruments, it’s really cool,” he said of the erhu soloist and her piano accompaniment.
Ms. Colbin commented on what she enjoyed about the music. She said, “I really liked the dances with the drums and how they did the music in time and they were dancing at the same movement … and then some of the drums were moving as they were doing it. It was just amazing.”
“I think it is wonderful. I’m glad that they can express it here,” Ms. Colbin commented on the divine culture aspect of the program. “I think it’s really sad that their culture can’t be expressed the way it should be, that they are being held back from their own history and their culture.”
What he’s referring to is that although throughout China’s history, it’s culture has always considered itself to be divinely inspired, in the last 60 or so years of Communist rule these ideals have been forsaken.
Mr. Johnson added, “I think it is sad that people anywhere aren’t allowed to express what they want to express. And I think it’s really cool that they can do what they want here.”
“I really liked when they talked about the meditation and their spirituality, their religion …, the three things they talked about was Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance,” said Ms. Colbin, referring to Falun Dafa, whose persecution is depicted onstage through dance.
Ms. Colbin mentioned what really stood out to her, it was: “Just peacefulness and coexisting, you know, love and trying to follow the right path no matter what religion you are. I think was a good message.”
“Principles and everything, yes, a lot of that is, it’s a story that deserves to be told. I’m not an overly spiritual person myself but as far as the principles are concerned, I think it is really important,” Mr. Johnson explained.
Ms. Colbin said she would definitely introduce the performance to others. “I would say it’s really beautiful, I don’t even know how I would describe it. I’d just say they have to see it.”
“As far as inspiration in that,” Mr. Johnson said pertaining to T-shirt design ideas. “I really liked the colors.”
“I particularly liked a couple of the color combinations and the styles of the dresses and how they moved … They were incredible,” Ms Colbin added.
Mr. Johnson said, “This is my first time here, but I will definitely be back.”
Reporting by Cat Rooney and Andrew Darin
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.
The 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.