Top US Photographer on Shen Yun: ‘I did not want it to end’

March 26, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Epoch Times Photo
Shaun Van Steyn attends Shen Yun Performing Arts in Washington, on Saturday March 24. (Lisa Fan/The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—Shaun Van Steyn, one of Washington’s best known photographers, has spent his life photographing the extraordinary, the beautiful and the interesting, so when he saw Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington D.C. on Saturday March 24, he did not want it to end.

“For me it was spectacular, especially the costumes, the colors, the movement,” Mr. Van Steyn said.

Shen Yun, a New York-based performing arts company, is dedicated to the restoration of Chinese culture, all but wiped out after more than 60 years of communist rule. Through vivid performances of classical Chinese dance, songs and music, Shen Yun is “a presentation of traditional Chinese culture as it once was: a study in grace, wisdom, and the virtues distilled from the five millennia of Chinese civilization,” according to the Shen Yun website.

“Everyone put their heart into it, their soul into it, and their life into it,” Mr Van Steyn said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Mr. Van Steyn grew up in wartime Britain and later became the stepson of James Bond actor, Roger Moore. Frequent bombing raids during his childhood damaged his hearing but what he might have lost in aural perception he made up for in the visual. He became a photographer, eventually working for some of America’s top publications. His photo, taken from the tower on top of the World Trade Center, became the highest earning photo for the photo stock agency representing him.

For Mr. Van Steyn, Shen Yun offered a glimpse into China’s rich 5,000-year history and an insight into the values underlying its culture.

“The way it was portrayed here, during different times, during different troubles, during conflict, fighting, but all the time believing in the heart and the kindness and the heavens,” he said.

He described one of the values integral to traditional Chinese culture and presented through the stories in Shen Yun’s performance: “There is always someone looking after us if you are a good person. If you are a bad person, they won’t look after you.

“This show portrayed that so, so well,” he said. “I did not want it to end.”

Reporting by NTD Television and Lillian Chang.

Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform at The Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, D.C., through April 1.

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