SAN FRANCISCO—With its world-renowned production of classical Chinese dance and music, Shen Yun Performing Arts transported San Francisco audience members to a divine world on Jan. 5.
Marketing artist John enjoyed learning about the culture and history of China when he attended the performance at the War Memorial Opera House. New York-based Shen Yun aims to portray this 5,000-year-old culture for audiences around the world.
During intermission, John said he was eager to see more of Shen Yun’s stories in the second half of the performance. Many Shen Yun dance pieces tell ancient legends as well as stories of today’s China.
“It’s been really enlightening to some of the social issues that are going down in China,” John said.
Some of the dances depict the oppression of Falun Dafa, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Dafa has been persecuted by the Chinese regime since 1999.
John especially connected with Shen Yun’s songs. Shen Yun vocalists use bel canto technique to sing philosophical songs rich with inner meaning, according to the company’s website.
“I think anybody could have identified with [the singer’s] feelings at that moment, so I think that it resonates with anybody who has a spiritual side,” he said.
He also appreciated the brightly-colored handmade costumes worn by the dancers.
“They’re beautiful, very nice,” he said. “One of the things that made me interested in seeing the show was because of the outfits. I figured it’d be a good way to see some of the cultural elements of design.”
John was impressed by the classical Chinese dance moves, which include difficult leaps, flips, and spins.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
Voice-over actress Tina Murray, who attended the same performance, was delighted by the heavenly scenes depicted on Shen Yun’s state-of-the art digital backdrop.
She understood and appreciated the spirituality of the opening dance piece, in which divine beings descend to the earth from heaven.
“That’s lovely, and that’s really magical,” she said.
Ms. Murray’s companion, Amy, a chef, especially admired the brilliant colors in Shen Yun. As Shen Yun’s website explains, the dancers’ colorful costumes include designs from various ethnic groups, and the dancers use props such as fans and handkerchiefs to form splendid displays.
“The colors, the costuming, the dance—everything is beautiful,” said Amy. “It’s impressive.”
“The colors are beautiful,” Ms. Murray agreed. “The dancers are lovely. It’s very traditional.”
“Traditional” is at the heart of what Shen Yun does. According to the company’s website, values such as benevolence and respect for the divine are the essence of China’s traditional culture.
These values have been almost lost under today’s communist rule, yet they are alive in every Shen Yun performance.
Reporting by Steve Ispas and Sally Appert
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.
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.