LONDON—Theatre director and writer Alexander Gifford said he was “very moved” by Shen Yun.
“What I so appreciated was to see a show that was unashamedly spiritual and revealed divine realities in a way that was moving and beautiful,” he said. “We don’t dare to do that in the Western cultural tradition.”
Gifford, who is a former model and film actor, watched Shen Yun perform at the Eventim Apollo in London on May 1.
“What we saw tonight was the highest of a very spiritual culture being revealed to us,” he said.
Established in New York in 2006, Shen Yun has a mission to revive 5,000 years of authentic Chinese culture, which was almost wiped out under communist rule.
Banned in China
Shen Yun celebrates China’s rich culture through music and dance, but they are not allowed to perform in China.
“It was so touching also to hear this is banned in modern China,” said Gifford. “This feels like a revival of the highest and best of Chinese culture.”
“I thought things had changed in China so there wasn’t that level of oppression … I hope it can go there eventually,” he said.
According to Shen Yun’s website, the performance honours China’s inner spiritual essence, something that’s stripped from shows within China.
‘High Spiritual Attainment’
Gifford said he felt the qualities of “Eastern philosophies and mysticism” radiating from the performance.
“I come more out of the Christian tradition but I’ve studied Eastern philosophies and mysticism a great deal so the fact that there is a show that is radiant with these qualities is for me inspiring and I’m completely delighted to have come today,” he said.
He described the piece “Fairies of the Clouds” as exquisite and said it “radiated divine energy.”
“I noticed early in the second half, my consciousness even attuning to the dancers even before they were coming on,” he said. “I personally had the experience of my consciousness becoming aware of my own eternal being, if I can put it like that.”
According to the programme book, Shen Yun artists work on refining goodness in themselves. The artists draw inspiration from the spiritual practice, Falun Dafa, and strive to live by the principles of truth, compassion and tolerance. Gifford said he felt this inner beauty on stage.
“I think there was a mystical energy field created in the room, that we as an audience got to sort of sync into, and that must come from practitioners who are themselves radiating that quality. It wouldn’t work if they weren’t people of high spiritual attainment themselves,” he said.
‘An Exquisite Work of Art’
Each Shen Yun performance features a live orchestra, which blends music from the East and West. Gifford particularly enjoyed the erhu, an ancient Chinese instrument that has only two strings.
A unique feature of Shen Yun is the opera, where artists sing in Chinese with the traditional bel canto technique. Gifford was struck by the lyrics of the songs, which are projected on the backdrop.
“For an English ear it is quite strikingly straight about spiritual things, we’re not quite used to that, so it grabs your attention,” he said.
He described the whole performance as “an exquisite work of art.”
“[It’s] enriched my life and I was very happy to have seen it,” he said.
With reporting by NTD Television and Jane Gray.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.