The Inevitable Beauty of Shen Yun
HOUSTON—”There is nothing like dance and art to reflect the inner meaning of the history,” said Mike Maloney, CTO of a gas company, after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts’ revival of traditional Chinese culture on stage.
“I can sense the rhythm and the beauty and the significance of the dance with the history. I think it has taken us back through time very nicely.”
The journey New York-based Shen Yun takes audiences on is a long one—5,000 years back, to the legend of how China’s first dynasty was established, up to China today, where the traditional values and beliefs people once held are seeing a revival.
While many reacted with shock at the fact that the traditional arts Shen Yun performs are banned in China, Mr. Maloney looked at it differently. To him it was no surprise that Shen Yun has become popular, as inevitably people’s inner feelings will lead to change.
“Humans eventually—all cultures, all races, all histories—eventually humans drive the energy of the culture. And no matter how people try to change that culture, the inner feeling of the people will always dominate eventually. And that’s happened quite often through such things as the beauty of dance and strength of people together. And we have seen that in all cultures,” Mr. Maloney said.
“It is beautiful art. So everybody should see it,” Mr. Maloney said.
When audience members speak of the beauty in Shen Yun, they scramble to cram all of the productions aspects into their description.
“It is beautiful, it is a beautiful show, all the costumes are wonderful, we love the music, love the orchestra, very much so,” said Glenn Hutchinson, who attended the performance with his wife. “It is a full-range of emotions … a lot of energy in it and I feel good in it.”
The full symphony orchestra features ancient Chinese instruments like the “suona,” a woodwind with a very distinct sound used to both comical to regal effect in the performance. The costumes include vivid water sleeves—a staple in classical Chinese dance, elaborate Manchurian headdresses, and Tang Dynasty robes. Stories and an animated backdrop take the viewers down to the Dragon King’s palace under the ocean, then back up to the rooftops of the world in the Himalayas. There is much to include when describing Shen Yun.
“The choreography, the color, everything was just—there was a real visual sensation,” said Jim Eason, a realtor. “It was just a great experience, both visually and musically in every way. And spiritually as well.”
Musician Charles Stewart said the visual effects that took him on a journey were “extremely believable.”
In particular, dancers would appear on stage in one moment and fly through the skies in the backdrop in another. “That’s the thing that was really overwhelming … there’s a lot of times when you see that stuff and you think, ‘that’s cute,’ but this was very, very believable.”
Then there was the fascinating instrumentation in the orchestra, he said, and how it was coordinated and choreographed with the dance. There was also a universal spirituality, and other wonderfulness.
“I just thought the way they did everything was magnificent,” he said. “I’ll be coming lots of times.”
Kirsten May is well acquainted with the beauty of Shen Yun, having attended the performance three years in a row. In fact, she works with a company which owns the billboards so often adorned with images of Shen Yun dancers as the new seasons approach.
“The costumes were always beautiful,” Mrs. May said. “Every year I think that I have a favorite costume, but every year … every one is my favorite, it seems like. They’re just so beautiful … just the way that the fabrics move and flow and the way the lighting hits the color and all of that.”
Reporting by Mary Yuan, Sarah Guo, and Catherine Yang
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.