TAOYUAN, Taiwan—”Shen Yun uses artistry to convey the law of the universe,” said Zhuang Xiumei, director of the Taoyuan Cultural Affairs Bureau, after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company in Taoyuan.
“I believe that the three principles of the performance—Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance—are the most basic principles of the universe and the essence of Chinese civilization,” said Ms. Zhuang, who attended Shen Yun for the third year.
Shen Yun’s website says, “Classical Chinese dance is a culture left to us by the ancients who came before us. Its beauty should be riches shared by all of humanity.”
“Divinely-inspired culture is the underlying foundation of Chinese civilization,” said Ms. Zhuang.
“Those of the older generation may recognize them as the essence of Chinese culture; it is only now that they are lost in China. Shen Yun, however, embodies the original moral values of Chinese civilization,” she said.
China was once known as The Divine Land (Shen Zhou), a land with a deep spirituality rooted in Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. It’s a heritage largely lost in China today, but something Shen Yun is working to revive.
Ms. Zhuang says that the most inspiring aspect of Shen Yun’s performance is the emphasis on harmony and selflessness. “Harmony is obtained naturally,” she explained. “As long as everyone puts others’ needs before their own, conflicts and hard feelings will naturally disappear. The gift of nature cannot be had by fighting for it; instead, one must obtain it by giving, compromising, and thinking of others.”
In watching Shen Yun’s performance, Ms. Zhuang says that she sees a “cultural China.”
Since 2006, New York-based Shen Yun has been touring internationally showcasing the true culture that was almost destroyed with the advent of communism to China.
“These are the benevolent values of Chinese culture embodied in the people of China for 5,000 years. It is not the ‘political China’ we see today.”
She explained, “The Chinese civilization was built upon the idea of harmony—the respect toward heaven and earth and the respectful relationship between people. We can see this embodied in the body language of the Shen Yun dancers.”
‘A pity to miss Shen Yun’
Ms. Zhuang realized that an important message of Shen Yun’s performance was that the goal of life was not merely to live in this mortal world. “The lyrics of the songs hint that there is a bigger world out there, a world of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance,” she said. “When people are obsessing over immediate gratifications, they often forget this.”
Each year Shen Yun presents an entirely new production with orchestral accompaniment.
“The performance was incredible and its message deep,” concludes Ms. Zhuang, who urges those who have not yet attended Shen Yun to order tickets in advance.
“The number of seats are limited, and it would be a pity to miss Shen Yun’s show.”
‘People can understand the power of compassion’
“When Shen Yun performance represents in Taoyuan City, I come see almost every year,” said Taoyuan Mayor Zheng Wencan.
“Everyone who sees Shen Yun performance will be very touched.” Mr. Zheng said, “The performance has great impact. It not only represents traditional Chinese dance, legend, and history, but also manifests the reflection on [modern] culture.”
“Shen Yun does very well on the themes about the power of compassion against that of the evil in the traditional Chinese culture.” He said, “Through Shen Yun’s performance, people can understand the power of compassion in another level.”
‘Shen Yun is truly exceptional!’
Former ambassador, Mr. Zheng Bojiu, expressed his respect and profound admiration after seeing the performance. “I have been overseas for many years. Although I’ve watched many operas and concerts in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere in the world, [I found] Shen Yun is truly exceptional!”
Mr. Zheng encouraged viewers to steady their minds prior to seeing the show and to watch it with sincerity and optimism, because only when people have a righteous mind can they fully appreciate the various layers of the show.
“Shen Yun is not just delightful to the heart and pleasing to the eyes.” Mr. Zheng explained, “The costumes in the performance and especially the dynamic backdrop were a feast for my eyes. But what makes Shen Yun different is how deeply it penetrates the heart.”
According to the Shen Yun website, “Classical Chinese dance is a culture left to us by the ancients who came before us, its beauty should be riches shared by all of humanity, its purity should not be contaminated.”
Mr. Zheng also noticed that Shen Yun dancers exhibited a classical Chinese characteristic of gentlemen not competing.
“In today’s performance there were no lead performers, and the dances were not choreographed to emphasize one or two main dancers. The performers all achieved the same high-level requirements, and every one of them had something to show. They danced uniformly and cohesively as one body, which is certainly not easy,” he said.
‘The musical effect was phenomenal’
The Shen Yun Orchestra, which combines the beauty and distinctiveness of Chinese sounds with the power and precision of a Western orchestra, amazed Mr. Zheng, who had studied vocal music for six years in Italy, learned oil painting in Spain, and diligently practiced Chinese calligraphy.
“In addition, the coordination of the music, which synthesized Eastern and Western musical instruments, was done so well that it really surprised me. In particular, I loved the combination of the erhu and the grand piano. It was the first time I had heard something like that, and the musical effect was phenomenal,” he said.
As his father-in-law is a well-known erhu player, Mr. Zheng also added, “The erhu is normally matched with Western orchestral instruments, rather than the piano. Therefore, this combination was a bold move and demonstrated the brilliance of the music.”
‘A Perfect Balance’
Mr. Zheng reveres Shen Yun for adhering to classical Chinese dance’s performing techniques and not pandering to the audience for popularity or market success nor easily distorting the traditional art form. “What is most admirable is how Shen Yun does not overly emphasize acrobatic fighting like other performances that resemble martial arts or acrobatic groups; instead, it exhibits a perfect balance.”
An important component of classical Chinese dance is its attention to a dancer’s inner spirit and his or her ability to convey deep emotional expressions. Mr. Zheng said, “The show can enhance people’s choreography and musical skills. Normal art companies try to please the audience, but Shen Yun does not. Instead, Shen Yun really resounds in people’s hearts; this is vitally important!”
Having not seen such a performance by any other company Mr. Zheng said, “I will definitely come again next year!”
Reporting by Dai Deman, Virginia Wu, Irene Luo, and Sunny Chao
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