THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.—Shen Yun Performing Arts’ mission is to transmit a message from “China before communism.” The company’s aim is to revive China’s 5,000 years of culture through storytelling, portrayed through classical and ethnic dances and music.
The message certainly resonated with Elise and David Devereux who attended New York-based Shen Yun at the Fred Kavli Theater in Thousand Oaks on Oct, 31.
Elise, who is an actress, said she was really enjoying the performance at the intermission. “It’s very eye-opening, I think, [for] the American people to see how China was and … what’s going on now in China. I can see the tyranny that the Chinese people are under.”
China’s history needs to be told, she said, “because I don’t think a lot of people necessarily know [it].”
“I think [Shen Yun is] amazing. I hope China goes back to [the time] before communism—if that will ever happen. I really hope so! I hope America doesn’t become like that!” she added.
China’s traditional, semi-divine culture was virtually wiped out after the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949.
Shen Yun has a live orchestra that is unique in that it blends music from both traditional Chinese instruments and classical Western instruments. It also presents several vocalists whose Chinese lyrics are translated and projected in English on the stage for the audience to see.
One of the songs heard by the audience introduced the divine Creator. The song made a strong impression on Elise.
“I was all emotional. [It] brought tears to my eyes actually,” she said.
“I think [communism is] trying to take God and everything out of humanity. And that’s what they do, that’s what communism is. They take everything, they strip the history, they strip God, they strip everything from the people. And it’s like you belong to them, the government,” Elise said.
After watching Shen Yun, David, the owner of a small business, said he could identify with its message.
“I had this thought, [that] each culture has its ancient beliefs. And there’s a lot of differences but there’s a lot of similarities. And being from the Christian belief system, there’s a lot I could identify with—the Creator and [to] ‘hold on to the traditions.’ I noticed that line.
“We have to look to our Creator to get us through difficult times, like right now,” he said.
“[W]hether it’s Christian, whether it’s Judaism, or whatever faith it is … communism stripped that … hopefully, some people here will open their eyes to the reality of what the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] does,” David said.
With the American people suffering greatly through the pandemic, Shen Yun has much to offer, David said. “[I]t brings a little joy that people can get back out—to some level of reality and normalcy,” he said.
“And you can see the influence from China to other cultures and see that it’s really beautiful.”
Reporting by Linda Jiang and Diane Cordemans.