ROCHESTER, N.Y.—Live performance has a power that can’t be reproduced by the most sophisticated recording technology. Audience members in Rochester said performances by Shen Yun Performing Arts were an incredible experience, well worth the price of the tickets.
“I’ve traveled all over the world, I’ve seen many productions, and I’ve never seen a production like this before. … You cannot replicate what you see live. … The only way to appreciate this performance is to simply go to see it,” said Scott Stansfield, a retired naturopathic physician, during intermission at Rochester Auditorium Theatre on Feb. 7.
“I think it’s an incredible cultural experience,” said Antonio Lizano, who saw Shen Yun February 6 and is the Corporate Multicultural Marketing Manager for the firm Paychex, which processes payroll for over half a million companies.
Culture is at the core of Shen Yun’s mission. Established in New York in 2006, the artists of Shen Yun came together with the wish to bring China’s divinely inspired traditions to life on stage.
The company’s website explains that the Chinese traditionally referred to their country as the ‘Divine Land,’ and Buddhist, Taoist, and other spiritual practices formed the heart of culture for thousands of years.
However, over the past more than 60 years of communist rule, political campaigns have systematically attempted to destroy the spiritual and moral underpinnings of Chinese culture, and repression of belief is still a widespread.
Mr. Stansfield’s family has personally experienced this repression. For the past decade his brother-in-law has been a missionary in China and the translations he does put him “at high risk,” Mr. Stansfield said.
Shen Yun’s four companies perform in over 100 cities around the world each year, but have never been allowed to perform in China.
Music From Two Worlds
Shen Yun performances feature classical Chinese dance accompanied by a full live orchestra that includes both Western and traditional Chinese instruments.
Because of differences between Eastern and Western music, it is very difficult to harmoniously combine these instruments—making the music of Shen Yun a standout feature of the performances.
Mr. Lizano said the orchestra was “just amazing, how they’re able to incorporate the European instruments with the Chinese instruments.”
Mr. Stansfield called it phenomenal and said he was impressed with the combination of instruments and the synchronicity with the dancers.
“The thing that has amazed me the most is the precision between the orchestra and the choreography of the performers and the dancers. It functions like a Swiss watch. It’s just unbelievable,” he said.
Another unique feature of the performances are bel canto tenor and soprano solos sung in Chinese. This method is challenging because it’s difficult to correctly pronounce Chinese words while meeting the inherent challenges of the bel canto technique.
“It’s just amazing that they’re able to hold the notes at that caliber. It’s amazing. … And especially for the Chinese dialect,” Mr. Lizano said.
You’ve Got To Be There
While you can purchase CDs and DVDs of the Shen Yun Orchestra, the only way to get the full experience of the dance is the come to a performance.
Mr. Stansfied, who brought his octogenarian parents, said the experience was worth well more than the price of tickets.
“Whatever you paid for the price of the ticket, you paid way too little. The ticket is worth multiple times what you paid for it. It is just absolutely awesome.”
“It’s a must-see experience, absolutely a must-see experience.”
Mr. Lizano summed up his experience saying: “Amazing, amazing. An incredible cultural experience that is once in a lifetime.”
But once is not enough. He plans to come again.
Reporting by Xinxin Teng and June Fakkert
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.