WASHINGTON—Shen Yun Performing Arts captures the essence of China’s 5,000-year civilization by telling stories on stage through dance and music.
Actor Peter Hertsgaard enjoyed this component of Shen Yun’s production.
“As somebody who’s very aware of storytelling, … [Shen Yun] chose really good stories,” he said.
These stories came to life through the phenomenal effort of the dancers, Hertsgaard added.
“The dancers also were really good at a lot of the acting pieces … because dancers aren’t always good actors, but your dancers are.”
The actor attended the performance at The Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington on April 21.
The classical Chinese dance company is the midst of its 2019 world touring, with six contingents stopping off in over 130 cities across four continents. Besides dance-based stories, New York-based Shen Yun’s program also includes classical Chinese dance vignettes and musical soloists.
Hertsgaard was also drawn to the messages conveyed by the stories, which tapped into the deeply spiritual roots of Chinese culture.
“I loved … the whole spiritual piece of [the performance], it’s beautiful,” he said.
For thousands of years, Chinese people have believed in the divine, as reflected in the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. The values and principles espoused by such beliefs underpinned personal conduct and social relations in China, to ensure harmony between Heaven, Earth, and man.
These traditions continued uninterrupted in China until the Chinese Communist Party seized power seven decades ago. The party systematically destroyed traditional beliefs and ideas over a series of political campaigns aimed at solidifying its power and control over the people, culminating in the Cultural Revolution which practically wiped out China’s connection with the past.
Shen Yun’s stories recalls China’s link with its ancient roots, starting from its opening scene that depicts the legend of China’s founding. It is said that the Creator called upon divine beings to come to Earth to establish the Chinese civilization.
Hertsgaard thought the reference to the Creator was a timely reminder in this day and age.
“We need the Creator to come back, we are all part of the Creator … so we’re carrying that spark of the Creator,” he said.
“I believe that we have come from a higher place and we’re here to transform this world, which is not such a great place and times, to bring the light, to bring all the colors of the divine Creator, all the different expressions in light, higher light.”
Shen Yun’s mission to revive an almost lost tradition resonated with Hertsgaard, who himself seeks to use the arts to return spiritual themes into storytelling.
“I think people need it, because there’s a lot of not very inspiring [things], and the world … can be now a very strange place, and oftentimes it’s very violent,” he said.
“I just think we need this kind of stuff, to inspire people to lift them up, to a higher possibility.”
With reporting by NTD Television.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.