Author and Illustrator Says Shen Yun ‘Unlike anything that I’ve ever seen’

Mar 11, 2014
Author and Illustrator Says Shen Yun ‘Unlike anything that I’ve ever seen’
Mr. Rick Johnston and his wife, Lisa, enjoyed watching Shen Yun Performing Arts, on Sunday afternoon, at the ASU Gammage Theatre in Tempe, Arizona. (Cheryl Casati/Epoch Times)

TEMPE, Ariz.—As a 7th wedding anniversary gift for his wife Lisa, Rick Johnston bought tickets to see Shen Yun Performing Arts at the ASU Grady Gammage Theater, on March 9.

Mr. Johnston is a financial analyst located in Scottsdale.

Mrs. Chaikin-Johnston loves children and is a substitute teacher as well as an author and illustrator of children’s books. She is also a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), AZ.

“This is our celebration; it’s a good thing to go to celebrate,” said Mr. Johnston.

Mr. Johnston was impressed by the performance. “I thought it was outstanding,” he said. “It was amazing; all the elements were integrated so well. I think that’s the thing that impressed me—the costuming, the dance, the soloists—it all blended together to send a central message that was just really beautiful.”

“Through the universal language of music and dance, Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired,” explains Shen Yun’s website.

Mr. Johnston saw a central message throughout the performance.

“Basically, you have these thousands of years of history, of rich culture, and so many elements to that culture, that a lot of times, as a Westerner, you don’t appreciate, because you don’t know all the history. I felt that I was being exposed to thousands of years of experiences and stories and legends,” he said.

The legends, myths, and depth of the storytelling were interesting to him.

“I think the history of some of the turmoil that’s been in China over thousands of years is there and certainly some of the contemporary issues were brought out. Essentially, it’s a story of both beauty and struggle at the same time,” he said.

Some of the stories in Shen Yun cover China today, such as the persecution of the meditation practice Falun Dafa. “In 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initiated a persecution campaign against Falun Dafa, a meditation discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” the website explains.

“I think perhaps the inability to practice the meditation—from what I understand there’s been a lot of turmoil and murder—things of that nature going on, so that was deeply upsetting to me as an American to hear about that,” said Mrs. Chaikin-Johnston.

Mrs. Chaikin-Johnston also said she enjoyed all the elements that contributed to the stories. “The costuming, the show, the props were fantastic,” she said.

Supporting each dance is the Shen Yun Orchestra. It is unique, blending instruments from the East and West, and performs all original musical scores.

Mrs. Chaikin-Johnston “loved it.”

“I thought it was fantastic to blend the Eastern and the Western traditions of music,” she said.

The backdrop caught the attention of Mr. Johnson: “The integration of the background digital with what was happening on stage; I’ve never seen anything quite like before.”

The website explains, “Shen Yun’s digital-backdrop team creates vividly animated settings, extending the stage and transporting the audience to a world where heaven and earth are one.”

Mrs. Chaikin-Johnston said she would tell her family and friends that Shen Yun is “unlike anything that I’ve ever seen. It’s highly enjoyable. It gives you history and traditional dance. I thought it was gorgeous, and I would highly recommend it.”

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.

The 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.