Yoga Instructor Sees True Spirit of Chinese Culture in Shen Yun

January 19, 2014 6:00 pm Last Updated: January 19, 2014 10:01 pm

NEW YORK—Elizabeth ter Porteen has spent time in China as a yoga instructor, but she recognizes that, “although it sounds and it looks very free when you go there and visit, it’s really not.”

She noticed the depth of spirituality among the people in China, “But everyone did it discreetly, so it wouldn’t draw too much attention. Because once you cross a line, you know …”

Ms. ter Porteen, who is also a director of Montessori schools, said she was thrilled to see Shen Yun Performing Arts at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater on Sunday, a display of the true depths of the Chinese culture. The New York-based company is reviving 5,000 years of Chinese civilization nearly lost under the communist regime, which sought to eradicate traditional culture.

Shen Yun’s website explains: “China was once known as Shen Zhou—The Divine Land. This profound name describes a land where deities and mortals coexisted, and a belief that the divine transmitted a rich culture to the people of the earth.”

“You feel like you’re being pulled up,” Ms. ter Porteen said of her experience watching Shen Yun. “I feel like I’ve been in a meditation. I feel peaceful,” she said.

She said she was very moved by a dance The Steadfast Lotus, that portrayed a mother and daughter persecuted for their beliefs.

Shen Yun brings legends, grand historical events, and heavenly scenes to the stage, but it also provides a glimpse into contemporary China. In this dance, the mother and daughter suffer greatly at the hands of the regime’s police for practicing the meditation discipline Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong. But hope prevails.

“I really was very touched,” said Ms. ter Porteen, adding it was particularly when the mother and daughter were taken up to the heavenly paradise.

She said she understood that the performance depicted a “universal experience for human beings.” “It’s really true,” she added.

She said of the story-based classical Chinese dances: “I thought it was a really beautiful example of bringing history and dance together.” The dance form has developed over thousands of years, and it has been used throughout the course of history to transmit the Chinese legends.

Werner Stutz, a retired mechanical engineer, attended the performance with Ms. ter Porteen. He said he is happy Americans have a chance to experience true Chinese culture through Shen Yun.

“It’s a very beautiful display and the choreography is excellent,” Mr. Stutz said.

“I think this is so incredible that [Chinese culture] … is spreading around the world,” Ms. ter Porteen said. “The beauty of it!”

Reporting by Joshua Phillip and Tara MacIsaac 

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.

The 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.