Shen Yun’s ‘Modern-Ancient’ Blend Inspires

December 31, 2015

HOUSTON—Imagine sitting in a pavilion of flowers, with streams of pink and coral “water sleeves” that seem to weigh nothing floating through the air, thrown by practiced imperial court dancers who maneuver the long sleeves in perfect synchronization. It is the 6th Century, during the Sui Dynasty, and this form of classical Chinese dance is one that has already been performed for at least a thousand years.

Now, picture the scene replicated with a full orchestra harmonized with traditional Chinese instruments, vivid costuming, and an animated backdrop.

It’s ancient and yet it’s modern.
— Dee Westcott

“It’s an old culture turned into a new hope,” said Dee Westcott after attending Shen Yun Performing Arts with family at the Jones Hall for the Performing Arts on Dec. 30. “It’s ancient and yet it’s modern.”

The New York-based company, which aims to revive 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, made a lasting impression on Mrs. Westcott. She even ventured to say that the journey Shen Yun took her on was one of “a new hope for the world.”

As she explained, the traditional culture presented by Shen Yun is ancient, but the performance for her was a new, exciting, and inspiring one. World-renowned Shen Yun performs classical Chinese dance, and ethnic and folk dances from China’s 50-some minority groups, set to an orchestra blending East and West, against a backdrop of animated scenery from legends to landscapes, according to its website.

Mrs. Westcott said that the culture has added up to thousands of years, and “it inspires people to hope for thousands more.”

“Full of hope,” she said. “Hope for the future. Hope for the world.”

Her husband, Mark Westcott, felt the performance “pop.”

“It was inspiration,” he said. “It represented the whole country of China, I think.”

It represented different regions, different folklore, different philosophies, with things from the sky and things from the earth, “just all intermingling,” he added.

“The colors bring out the emotions … a lightness of heart,” Mr. Westcott said. “All that is uplifting.”

Elizabeth Taylor, a classically trained soprano, was also moved and inspired by the performance. She noted the erhu virtuoso solo, and the bel canto vocal soloists, who sang original Chinese lyrics. The songs, as Shen Yun’s program explains, are filled with philosophical reflections on human life and meaning.

“I loved the message of the songs, the words of the songs. I loved the way that they were expressed,” Ms. Taylor said, quoting lyrics from the program book. It was a sort of spirituality she connected to, in the lyrics, and Ms. Taylor said it was part of the performance from when the curtains came up.

“When the Creator comes down [in the opening], that was awe-inspiring. It just opens the show and it sets the whole tone for the whole show. It was great. It was beautiful.”

Reporting by Sherry Dong and Catherine Yang

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.