PALM DESERT, Calif.—Ken Dahlquist is a freelance camera operator and five-time Emmy Award winner. He spent 50 years working in Hollywood but is now retired.
Mr. Dahlquist said that coming to see Shen Yun Performing Arts was a “good date night” and, because of the pandemic, it was his first date in two years.
New York-based Shen Yun is a traditional Chinese classical dance and music company that is touring the globe with its mission of reviving Chinese culture as it was in the pre-communist times.
Shen Yun was playing at the Palm Desert McCallum Theater and Dahlquist was enjoying himself enormously.
“I just like the choreography. [I’ve] worked on a lot of dance shows, and I appreciate the talent,” he said adding that the energy and the dedication of the performers was astounding.
“It’s just amazing that they are … in step—all in unison, always. Nobody’s missing a beat. Pretty impressive,” he said.
Shen Yun’s backdrops and its dynamic use of digital technology also impressed Dahlquist. The use of 3D technology creates a near-magical performance that gives the audience an unforgettable experience.
Traditional Chinese culture focused on values such as morality, loyalty, truthfulness, and goodness.
Besides drawing on legends and history from China’s past, the dances also include stories of the present-day persecution of the spiritual practice known as Falun Dafa by the Chinese regime.
Because Shen Yun reveals the true nature and history of China’s past traditions, it has been banned from performing in its country of origin.
“I think it’s important … that we understand a lot of this could not be seen in China today. And [it’s] very, very disturbing and sad that that happens [while] in America we’re able to watch this and enjoy,” said Mr. Dahlquist.
Also enjoying Shen Yun were Catherine Bray, the owner of a tutoring agency and former elementary school teacher, and Roberta Edward, a retired purchasing agent.
Shen Yun enlightens us, said Ms. Bray. “I absolutely loved it,” she said.
“I love the quality of the dancing. I love the colors. It’s bright, it’s cheerful,” said Ms. Bray. “I came back because I loved it so much. I wanted to see it again and brought my friend Roberta.”
“I love the dancing, the music. I love the history. There’s a lot of things that we Americans don’t know that goes on in China, I think, and we’re learning more about it through music and dance,” she said.
“[The music] is emotional. It’s beautiful. Yet underlying, it’s a little sad. But then it’s happy. You know we’re all human, so we’re happy, but we have emotions,” explained Ms. Bray.
She applauded Shen Yun in their mission of bringing back traditional Chinese culture.
The two friends agreed that Shen Yun’s endeavor to educate its audiences about Chinese history and culture was phenomenal.
For Ms. Edward it was the stories portrayed by Shen Yun’s dancers that she loved.
It was only through watching Shen Yun that people could learn the real story about China, she said.
“You wouldn’t find out what is going on exactly. And what’s the history of China? The present of China and how much is suppressed,” Ms. Edward said.
The American education system does not teach Chinese history as portrayed by Shen Yun, said Ms. Bray.
“And so, if more people knew what was happening, I think it would open [their] eyes. So, I love it. It’s a great experience,” she said.
“I’ve told many people that it’s a wonderful [performance] and there’s a lot of history involved in it. And the theater is full tonight. Look at the theater—you can tell people are interested. They want to know,” said Ms. Bray.
Reporting by NTD Television and Diane Cordemans.