Shen Yun’s ‘Stories Were Fantastically Told,’ Says Ballerina

Feb 07, 2024
Shen Yun’s ‘Stories Were Fantastically Told,’ Says Ballerina
Mende Staggs (C) with her son, Corin Staggs, and her daughter, Clarissa Whitehouse, enjoyed Shen Yun's evening performance at the ArcBest Corporation Performing Arts Center on Feb. 6, 2024. (Sonia Wu/The Epoch Times)

FORT SMITH, Ark.—On Feb. 6, Mende Staggs, a business owner, attended Shen Yun Performing Arts’ evening show with her son Corin Staggs, a professional performer, and her daughter Clarissa Whitehouse, a ballerina.

Standing in the lobby of the ArcBest Corporation Performing Arts Center during intermission, Ms. Whitehouse said the show was fantastic.

“It’s fantastic. I loved the dancing. Did not expect to need to bring tissues but I should have brought a box of tissues,” she expressed.

“The stories were fantastically told and the costumes were beautifully done. I have a 3-year-old who loves watching dance and performances. He can’t see it yet but I’m hoping [Shen Yun] is still here when he’s five so he can come back and see it,” she said.
Based in New York, Shen Yun is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company.

Its artists are seeking to revive the glory of China’s 5,000 years of history and share, through a series of short dance pieces, all that was good and beautiful in China before communism.

A professional dancer herself, Ms. Whitehouse was especially impressed by the skill of the Shen Yun artists.

“I actually did ballet for 19 years. So, for me, I’m watching the feet, the lines, and I was just commenting to [Corin] on how even and precise everything was on stage. All the men doing jumps—all their feet were at the same level of the stage—I know how hard that is to do in groups,” she said.

“For me watching, it’s at a different level—I’m sure the people around me were annoyed because I’m sitting there going, ‘Oh, wow, oh.’”

Based in New York, Shen Yun artists are highly trained in classical Chinese dance. Dating back thousands of years, it is one of the most athletic and expressive art forms in the world.

According to the company’s website, the classical Chinese dance we see in China today is heavily mixed with military and modern dance styles. Only at Shen Yun can you find it performed in its purest form—the way it was originally passed down through the generations.

Mr. Staggs, too, thought “the dance pieces were very beautiful.”

“I like that the guys’ dancing is very different from the girls’ dancing. Everything is stern with the guys. [The movements are] fluid but still very rigid in the way that it’s performed. It’s very masculine and they’re not feminizing the men just because they’re dancing,” he stated.

“I also really appreciated the fact that there were equal guys to girls in the show. It’s something that’s unheard of with most dances today.”

Mrs. Staggs, on the other hand, was deeply moved by Shen Yun’s short story-based dance raising awareness about ongoing human rights persecution in present-day China.

“The dancing was phenomenal. I was moved to tears by the piece about modern communism. It was very touching, especially as a mom. I can relate to what [the story character] would be going through in that situation,” she said.

“It’s fantastic and they’re very committed to their craft.”

Met with wide acclaim since its establishment in 2006, Shen Yun can be expected to return each year with a brand-new set of choreography and musical compositions.
Reporting by Sonia Wu and Jennifer Tseng.
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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