Shen Yun’s Triumphant Return to Washington

By Gary Feuerberg, Epoch Times
December 2, 2013 Updated: December 22, 2013

WASHINGTON―Members of the Shen Yun classical Chinese dance company paid a visit to the Sequoia, a luxurious yacht, anchored in the nation’s capital that has served Presidents since Herbert Hoover. The Sequoia is docked at the Gangplank Marina, 6th Street & Maine Avenue S.W. Washington, D.C., a mile south of the U.S. Capitol building.

Current owner of the Sequoia, Gary Silversmith, invited principal dancers of the Shen Yun performing arts company and choreographers, Ms. Michelle Ren and Mr. Yungchia Chen, and Director of Shen Yun, Ms. Tia Zhang, to see the historical yacht and enjoy their return to Washington.

The 104’ Sequoia Presidential Yacht was built in 1925, based on a style created by John Trumpy, Sr. and is undoubtedly the most famous Trumpy built and possibly the most famous vessel in America not owned by the government. The large collection of presidential photographs and original memorabilia, and the spacious top deck with its original teak deckchairs used by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill provided an ideal setting for appreciation of American history, which delighted its visitors on a sunny Aug. 24―one day before their return to the Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center Opera House.

While the threesome was relaxing, NTD Television was there too and an interviewer asked them about their impressions of the Washington audience during their last appearance in February at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

Yungchia Chen, choreographer and principal dancer with Divine Performing Arts, is interviewed at the Sequoia Presidential Yacht in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 24. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

“The audience was very warm.  For the performance, the [Washington] audience has a high level of appreciation,” said Mr. Chen. Yungchia Chen, 41, has been dancing since he was 11 years old, graduated at the top of his class at Beijing Central National University in Dance, was the recipient of the first prize in the Adult Male Division of New Tang Dynasty Television’s International Chinese Classical Dance Competition in 2007.

“I believe that our performance [in the coming week], there will make an even greater impact [than six months ago]. This time we bring about an exciting and comprehensive performance. It is the highlights for the past several years’ performances, which combines the most favorite programs in the past,” said Chen.

Michelle Ren, choreographer and principal dancer with Divine Performing Arts, is interviewed at the Sequoia Presidential Yacht in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 24. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

Ms. Ren was also touched by the DC audience. “What most impressed me is the sincere gratitude from audiences when I attended the VIP reception after the first show. Their appreciation came from the bottom of their hearts.”

Ms. Ren began training in artistic gymnastics at the age of six before going into dance. She has won several national awards in China, and was the recipient of the first prize in the Adult Female Division of New Tang Dynasty Television’s (NTD Television) International Chinese Classical Dance Competition in 2007.
The Shenyun company manager Ms. Tia Zhang was asked about the previous six shows last February.

“From those six sold-out shows, I can tell that many people began to recognize, cherish and seek this classical culture here. They can fully understand the beauty and peaceful mood that we bring about in the performance.  In the opening show, we still had a few tickets unsold. Because of the great impact of that performance, almost all tickets were sold out in the subsequent shows,” said Ms. Zhang.

August is considered an off-season for entertainment, but the company still came. Ms. Zhang explained:

“Why we can come here once again this August?  Our performance in last February made a great difference in our brand identity.”
Ms. Ren also observed the impact their Chinese classical dancing had on Washington audiences six months ago. She said:

“About two days ago, on our tour in Alabama, I encountered two local ballet dancers, who told me that they heard we had six sold-out shows at the Kennedy Center in February. They were very surprised since they didn’t expect our performance would have penetrated Western society. So this time I am happy to come back.”

How do they keep it up, with a grueling schedule, crisscrossing the globe and appearing in this season in over 80 cities from five continents and performing more than 300 shows?

“We have a shared belief that we are working for others, not for ourselves and not to show our skills and techniques. We perform only for the purpose to bring about pure beauty and pure compassion to audience,” said Ms. Zhang.