BALTIMORE—Enthusiastic applause and several calls for an encore followed the solo by tenor Tian Ge during a performance by Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, Jan. 30.
Tian’s reappearance onstage for the curtain call sparked a fresh wave of excited clapping that escalated into a standing ovation and a second bow for the performers.
This is his seventh season with Shen Yun, a New York-based classical Chinese dance company founded with the mission to revive China’s traditional culture through the performing arts.
The song Tian sang this year, “Fulfilling My Dream,” goes right to the heart of that mission.
“I have long had a dream/That one day I would go back to Heaven/For that is the soul’s true home,” reads the translation of the Chinese lyrics.
Deeply influenced by Buddhism and Taoism, for thousands of years the Chinese considered their culture to be divinely inspired. The Chinese held deities in high regard, and emphasized cultivating virtues such as loyalty and compassion, which they felt would earn them the blessings of those deities and secure good future for their souls.
Shen Yun was founded by practitioners of Falun Dafa, a spiritual discipline based on the principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance. The performers of Shen Yun take cultivating these virtues very seriously, ascribing to the traditional belief that only if an artist has a pure heart and clean mind will his or her work be truly great.
Shen Yun cannot perform in China, where the Chinese Communist Party has violently persecuted practitioners of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong) since 1999.
Spirituality That Crosses Cultures
The belief that the home of the soul is in heaven struck a chord with Kevin Lynch, who works in a global pharmaceutical company and was visiting Baltimore from Ireland.
“It’s a very deep and profound message for all of us,” he said.
“I felt a link across all different peoples. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, … we all believe in the greater being, or those of us who have beliefs, believe in a greater being or believe in a Creator,” he said.
Retired consultant, Dennis Redclift, was also very touched by the words of the song, which he said brought him to the verge of tears and also made him feel “beyond happy.”
He said that seeing the image of the Lord Buddha was a powerful spiritual reminder.
“I feel it is the truth. … It’s what we all hunger for, every human being. Me especially … Because in this world there’s such falsity,” he said.
The final dance, titled “The Divine Renaissance Begins,” was especially touching, he said: “[It] brought a peace over me, and goodness, and hope.”
The piece is set in contemporary China and shows the Lord Buddha helping avert calamity for those who cherish virtue.
William Lomax, a cook at an area hospital, and his fiancée, Dawn Williams, were also touched by the spirituality in Shen Yun.
“The singers, they were heavenly,” Ms. Williams said.
She was very moved by the finale. “I had tears running, it touched me so much. There is hope, there is a heaven. It was beautiful, it was just beautiful,” she said.
“If you live a good life here and you’re righteous to people and good to people, your spirit will return to heaven with the help of God,” she said.
The couple paid twice for their tickets, but said it was well worth it. “I paid cash for our tickets and lost them, and when we got here, we bought another set,” Mr. Lomax said.
“That’s how much we wanted to see it,” Ms. Williams said. “We paid double to come see it, but we’re so glad we did.”
Reporting by Sally Sun, Sherry Dong, and June Fakkert
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.