WASHINGTON—Michael Waller, vice president of government relations at Washington-based think tank Center for Security Policy, said the secret of Shen Yun’s success lies in the fact that the performance has a soul.
“The precision of the dance, and the grace of the dance, you don’t find that in American productions anymore,” Waller said.
“And the sheer beauty of it,” he added, “It’s not sort of an empty beauty of, say, a Broadway performance, it doesn’t have a soul—this has a soul.”
Waller attended the opening night performance of Shen Yun Performing Arts with his partner Alison Blair, antique business owner, at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington on April 17.
The New York-based company founded with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture through the arts is in the midst of its 2019 touring season, traveling to over 130 cities around the world.
Waller is a national security expert, and a founding member of a recently formed independent coalition of national security and human rights experts called the Committee on the Present Danger: China.
He thoroughly enjoyed the spirituality conveyed through the stories and songs presented by Shen Yun.
What stood out to Waller were the values of good triumphing over evil seen in both the ancient stories and those depicting scenes in modern-day China under communist rule.
It was refreshing to see such positivity, he said, because many people only see the negatives caused by seven decades of communist rule in the country, such as its severe pollution, rampant corruption, human rights abuses, and theft of overseas intellectual property.
“[Through Shen Yun] you see the beauty of the ancient civilization, [and] the hope for future of China, all at the same time. And it’s really exciting thing to see, it’s really inspiring.”
For thousands of years, Chinese people have observed a rich set of values and principles derived from the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Such traditional beliefs underpinned Chinese society for generation upon generation, until they were systematically uprooted by a series of political campaigns initiated by the Chinese Communist Party, culminating in the Cultural Revolution, a decade-long period of turmoil and destruction launched in the late 1960s.
The performance’s closing piece titled “The Final Moment,” a story set in modern-day China, resonated with Waller and Blair.
Waller said story’s reference to the Creator coming down to Earth to eliminate evil, and take people back to where they came from, carried a universal message that transcended any religion.
Meanwhile, Blair said the piece reminded her how blessed she was to be in the United States where people enjoy the freedoms of belief and speech, something not available in communist China.
“It was a very beautiful way to tell a story with hope,” she said.
Blair and Waller were both touched by the performance, saying the beauty of it was hard to pin down with words.
“It’s something that you can’t put into words, but you have to experience to really understand the full beauty and context of everything that is your culture, your past, your present, and your future,” Blair said.
With reporting by Sophia Zheng.
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.