Freedom of Belief, Expression, and Culture on Display at Shen Yun Premiere in Atlanta

Dec 24, 2022
Freedom of Belief, Expression, and Culture on Display at Shen Yun Premiere in Atlanta
Gina Ann Riggs, co-founder of Marietta Theatre Company in Atlanta, saw Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, in Georgia, on Dec. 24, 2022. (NTD)
ATLANTA—Gina Ann Riggs, actor and co-founder of the Marietta Theatre Company in Atlanta, celebrated Christmas Eve by attending the completely sold-out world premiere of Shen Yun Performing Arts 2023.

“Absolutely beautiful. I came here expecting to see beautiful dances and beautiful costumes and scenery, and it’s so much more,” Ms. Riggs said at Atlanta Symphony Hall with her family the afternoon of Dec. 24.

Shen Yun, founded in New York in 2006, is the world’s top classical Chinese dance company. Many of the founding artists had left communist China in search of freedom of belief, which Ms. Riggs said she only learned during the performance, and appreciated.
“It’s different than anything we’ve ever done on Christmas Eve. So, it’s just absolutely beautiful,” she said.

She commended the performers’ interaction with the unique and patented backdrop technology, and the work they put into creating the two-hour show.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous ... They are absolutely amazing. I can’t imagine all of the hours that went into getting ready for these types of performances, and great job! Bravo!”

“I have a new appreciation for the Chinese culture that I didn’t know about before this,” she said.

Ms. Riggs said she learned about the history of China’s 5,000 years of divinely inspired civilization, and how faith had been stamped out by the Chinese Communist Party. She also learned that Shen Yun’s artists are people of faith who sought to express their beliefs freely beyond China.

“It’s such a great experience,” Ms. Riggs said. “I think [my friends] all need to come and see it.”

Also in the audience was Pierre Hardy, a manager at HP, who had “always been a fan of traditional, pre-communism Chinese culture.”

“And the best way to see it firsthand is to come to the show,” said Mr. Hardy, who attended the Atlanta matinee after having learned about Shen Yun through The Epoch Times.
Mr. Hardy said he actually knew about the religious persecution taking place in China, and knew that many of the Shen Yun artists practice Falun Gong. Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that teaches the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.

“I want to find out more about it,” said Mr. Hardy, who said he'd purchased a copy of “Zhuan Falun,” the main text of Falun Gong, after the performance.

The practice was made public in China in 1992, and in under a decade, between 70 million and 100 million Chinese had taken up the spiritual practice. China before communism was a deeply spiritual nation, with spiritual disciplines like Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism forming the bedrock of its culture.

Shen Yun depicts through music and dance the beauty of this divinely inspired civilization, according to its website. The name “Shen Yun” itself translates into “the beauty of divine beings dancing.”

Mr. Hardy said he certainly felt this theme in the performance.

“What comes out to me the most [is that] all humans have a divine spark,” he said. “This gives me the opportunity to see firsthand traditional Chinese culture.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Frank Liang.
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.
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