BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom—A trip to see Shen Yun Performing Arts was a special birthday treat for retired Derbyshire couple Mr. and Mrs. Wright.
“This has been my birthday present from my wife, and we really did enjoy it,” said Mr. Wright after Shen Yun’s matinee performance at the Birmingham ICC on March 6.
“I thought the performance was really uplifting actually and it made you feel happy, and I enjoyed the whole thing. I thought the whole performance was marvellous,” said Mrs. Wright.
Formed in 2006, Shen Yun seeks to revive the 5,000 years of authentic divinely inspired Chinese culture. Deeply expressive Classical Chinese dance forms the cornerstone of each performance, accompanied by a unique orchestra that harmoniously combines Eastern and Western instruments.
“It just sort of flowed, the movement of the dancers, and the music, and the colours were so vibrant. It was just alive! It really was lovely,” said Mrs. Wright.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four companies that tour the world simultaneously for about four months each year. This year they are visiting over 100 cities in 19 countries, with Aix-en-Provence in France the next destination after Birmingham.
“It’s quite special that [Shen Yun] was only visiting the U.K. for just a short time around my husband’s birthday, so we’re really lucky,” Mrs. Wright said.
For the rest of the year, the Shen Yun performers work hard on perfecting their classical Chinese dance technique and learning a whole new performance that is choreographed, designed, and costumed each year.
Jenny Coverdale, a retired local government officer from Macclesfield, saw Shen Yun last year at The Lowrie in Manchester, and was again impressed with the dancers’ dedication.
“The skill, the talent is phenomenal really. I spent some time looking at the Shen Yun website, and the interviews with the dancers, you see them training, the whole ethos, the way they bring people together and support each other,” she said.
Shen Yun performers follow in the ancient Chinese tradition of “self-refinement, seeking to create art from a pure and humble mental space”, according to the Shen Yun programme book.
“Shen Yun’s performers draw their spiritual inspiration from the meditation discipline and self-improvement practice called Falun Dafa. Also known as Falun Gong, it is rooted in China’s ancient spiritual traditions, and its practitioners strive to live by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance,” the programme book states.
Falun Dafa has been persecuted since 1999 in China by the Chinese Communist Party, which has also attempted to systematically destroy traditional Chinese culture and its spiritual roots. This means Shen Yun is unable to perform in China today.
Ms. Coverdale said that Shen Yun’s independence and ability to perform authentic Chinese culture came through in the performance. “It’s a very dignified message really, it’s very beautiful,” she said.
After watching Shen Yun for the first time on Sunday, Spanish teacher Alma Smith agreed. “I think it’s such a great shame that it’s not allowed in China as it is such a beautiful expression,” she said.
As well as technical skill and form, classical Chinese dance includes “bearing”, which the Shen Yun website describes as “inner spirit”. Together, these characteristics enable classical Chinese dance to convey the deeper meanings of Chinese culture.
Ms. Smith said she could feel this coming through in the performance. “It’s so beautiful. It’s such an emotional experience,” she said. “The movements and the way they do it they are so graceful and they are so precise.”
Being a dancer herself, Ms. Smith felt swept away by the performance. “You just see it and wish you could be one of them. You wish you were a dancer and you were dancing with such beautifulness.”
She Yun is “absolutely out of this world. There are really no precise words to say how beautiful this show is.”
Reporting by Debbie Mumford, Jane Gray, and Kat Piper
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.