NEW YORK—Seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater Jan. 14 left Ms. Marie-Claire Paver thinking about how the wisdom of the past might inspire people in the present. A writer and translator, Ms. Paver was impressed with the spiritual content of the performance.
“I really like all this,” said Ms. Paver. “They are very spiritual.”
Through the medium of classical Chinese dance, New York-based Shen Yun depicts historical legends and contemporary tales, in addition to the rich cultural heritage of different ethnicities and dynasties from China’s 5,000 years of civilization. It is a culture believed to be divinely inspired.
Shen Yun’s dancers, musicians, choreographers, composers, and the entire team continue the tradition of gaining inspiration from a spiritual source. The company’s website explains: “For them, this spiritual connection is motivation for striving to excel, is the heart behind each movement of the dancer and each note of the musician. It is why audiences can feel there is something different about Shen Yun. Their source of inspiration, rooted in traditional Chinese culture, is the spiritual discipline known as Falun Dafa.”
Ms. Paver was struck by one of the contemporary scenes, a dance portraying the persecution of Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, a traditional meditative practice targeted by the Chinese communist regime for persecution. Ms. Paver saw in the perseverance shown by Falun Dafa adherents a “communion of the philosophy of the past” with modern society.
“[The policeman] becomes good because of the compassion and wisdom of the others,” Ms. Paver said. “I think we need more of this kind of message.”
That was a dance that also caught the attention of Mr. Allen Anidjar, founder and CEO of a web management company, who also attended the performance Jan. 14.
“Falun Dafa is something that’s prevalent or prominent right now,” Mr. Anidjar said. He had learned about it two years ago, when he saw Shen Yun for the first time.
“When I saw it two years ago, it was so beautiful I couldn’t grasp the concept. Finally, I’m learning about the persecution, and the arts, and how the spirituality of Shen Yun or the Chinese culture is wonderful and magnificent,” Mr. Anidjar said. “I’m actually grasping the culture and the 5,000 years of history.”
China was once known as the land of the divine, and the culture holds respect for the heavens at its core. Audience members noted the spirituality in every aspect of the performance.
“Somehow they go back to the roots with a little bit of spirituality mixed into it,” said Mr. Jaime Sguerra, who saw the performance with his daughter, Carolina Sguerra.
Mr. Sguerra said he loved learning about the diversity of China. Besides taking the audience on a journey through 5,000 years, Shen Yun showcases many of the 50-plus ethnic minorities through folk and ethnic dances.
In Snow-Capped Celebration, for example, male dancers performed a Tibetan dance as the digital background set the scene atop the Himalayas, where the Lhasa Potala Palace sits. In Dance of the Li, female dancers perform a Li ethnic dance with yellow straw hats in hand, on the tropical shores of Hainan Island.
Ms. Sguerra said the addition of the animated backdrop to the cultural dances was phenomenal.
“The dancing, the movement all throughout was so fluid,” Ms. Sguerra said. “Everything was just one even flow and it was incredible.”
Also in the audience was Francis Alessandro, a retired judge and frequent patron of the arts.
“I enjoyed it immensely,” he said of Shen Yun. Even with a broken arm, he said, he made a point to come see it. “It’s always exciting—the costumes, the dancing, and the tradition.”
“I look forward to coming next year,” Mr. Alessandro said.
Shen Yun performs a different set of dances each year, so it’s always a new experience.
Reporting by NTD Television, Tracy Zhu, Leo Timm, and Catherine Yang
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.