Shen Yun's Majestic and Indelible Heritage Delights Washington, DC Audiences (Photos)
(Minghui.org) The premier Chinese classical dance company, Shen Yun Performing Arts, staged seven sold-out shows at The Kennedy Center Opera House, in Washington, DC, on January 29 to February 3, 2013. Most of the shows were sold out weeks in advance. This was the eighth time that Shen Yun had performed at the Center.
White House Staff: Shen Yun “Best Show Around the World!”
Emmanuel Gomez after watching Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center on the afternoon of Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy of NTD Television)
Emmanuel Gomez, a White House staff aide, was bedazzled by Shen Yun's performance at The Kennedy Center Opera House.
“I recommend that he [President Barack Obama] come—him and the First Lady, the family, the whole entourage,” Mr. Gomez said. “From other shows I’ve seen around the world, this one—by far—is the best one.”
The cultural and educational value of the performance particularly struck Mr. Gomez. Mr. Gomez said culture is extremely important to him, adding that Shen Yun had brought him invaluable insights into Chinese culture.
“It gave me a perspective of China, and it’s a great perspective,” Mr. Gomez said.
Mr. Gomez especially appreciated the last dance piece, “Divine Mercy,” which is a culmination of a battle of good and evil, according to Shen Yun’s program book. He said the piece was beautiful.
“The message of the show is basically faith … holding on to your beliefs, to your culture, your roots and to keep going forward. Don’t let those die,” Mr. Gomez said.
He felt that Americans can benefit from watching Shen Yun. “We see all this famine and destruction around the world, even in our country. I believe something like this can open the hearts and minds of people.”
The White House aide appreciated how the Shen Yun Orchestra, which is comprised of both Eastern and Western instruments, accompanied each dance set and the dancers. “I loved it,” he said.
Shen Yun also has a state-of-the-art interactive backdrop that accentuates the dances.
“I thought it was going to be only dancing, but when they incorporated the music, the live orchestra, and video in the back, everything was so well connected,” Mr. Gomez said. “It’s amazing.”
“I recommend it for everybody!” he enthused.
Grover Joseph Rees, III, a former ambassador, saw the opening performance of Shen Yun at the Kennedy Center with his wife on Jan. 29, and found that it resonated with him. (Photo courtesy of The Epoch Times)
Grover Joseph Rees, III, a former professor of law and U.S. ambassador to East Timor, attended the show with his wife. It was the second time he had seen it.
“It’s beautiful to be able to witness the culture of a civilization which is impossible to experience in that country,” he said. He was referring to the Chinese Communist Party's ban on Shen Yun’s presentation of traditional Chinese culture in China.
One performance that especially stood out for Rees and his family was an excerpt from the great Chinese novel Journey to the West.
The piece was both entertaining and instructional and focused on the idea of redemption and clemency, which is found in traditional Chinese culture. “That’s an idea in many religions,” Ambassador Rees said. “But we don’t typically see it enacted in a play.”
He summed up his experience of Shen Yun, saying, “All in all I’d say it was a wonderful evening.”
Beauty and Grace
Ann Jackson (L), an international consultant, and Renee McCoy-Collins (R) said they thoroughly enjoyed the Shen Yun performance at the Kennedy Center on Jan. 29. (Photo courtesy of The Epoch Times)
Renee McCoy-Collins, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, saw the opening performance with her friend Ann Jackson, an international consultant.
Ms. Jackson bought tickets from a booth for the show in a Neiman Marcus store after having heard “how spectacular it was, and how colorful, and how the dances were absolutely phenomenal.”
Ms. McCoy-Collins said she would remember “the beauty. The grace. The phenomenal talent and the commitment to their art,” of Shen Yun.
She added: “It seemed like there was this joy coming from within that they were trying to share and express. Just the genuine smiles and the ease with which they performed, as if it were a performance out of love. Love for something they believed in. Love for something they were doing.”
Shawn Cosby, a choreographer, attended the show with his wife, Sherion, a director.
“I love the classical dancing. I loved the colors, the expression. I loved the mood of every piece. I loved the singing—the singing was off the charts!” Mr. Cosby enthused.
“The precision, the skill, it’s all there. You could see the classical training, its just wonderful to watch. It was a good lesson for me, I enjoyed it so much!”
She said her favorite dance set was “An Unexpected Encounter,” which portrays a father and daughter who are wrongly arrested. While taking photographs in a park they were mistaken for practitioners of Falun Dafa, a spiritual discipline that is persecuted in China. While wrongly jailed they come to see a greater truth associated with the Chinese cultural discipline. “I just loved it,” Sherion said.
“Because I’m a choreographer I’m looking at the dance details,” Shawn said. “The fingers, and everybody’s hand placement and head placement. Everybody’s on the same line and everybody’s hitting center. That kind of stuff really, really makes a difference!”
Curtain call at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday Jan. 29. Shen Yun's presentation of traditional Chinese culture has won fans locally and across the globe. (Photo courtesy of The Epoch Times)
Government officials in regions near the District of Columbia sent congratulations to Shen Yun this year, as in years past. Governor of Virginia Robert F. McDonnell, wrote: “I thank the Shen Yun World Tour for its dedication to continuing the traditions that honor 5,000 years of Chinese civilization.”
Senator Timothy M. Kaine from Virginia, in a similar letter wrote: “I want to personally extend a warm welcome to all those attending the performances by Shen Yun Performing Arts.” He described the show as “stellar” and “a unique opportunity for the Mid-Atlantic region to gain a more profound appreciation for traditional Chinese music, dance, and culture.”
Shen Yun has a deeper meaning in particular for Washington and its residents, says Dong Xiang, executive director of the Washington Bureau of NTD Television.
For the sophisticated and powerful people about town, “watching Shen Yun will help them tremendously to understand China, and not just contemporary China under communist rule, but where China came from in the last 5,000 years, and more importantly what the future China will look like 20 or 30 years from now,” Xiang says.
The view of China that Shen Yun takes is one of a vast, sweeping, majestic, and indelible heritage. In this view, the last 60 years of communist rule—wherein a vast amount of the traditional Chinese culture was suppressed to make room for the Communist Party—is but a blip on the map.
In China’s 5,000 years, a variety of tribal powers and nationalities have conquered the country and seized power. They used to be known as “barbarians” to the Chinese. The Yuan dynasty, founded by Mongolian warriors for example, was one of the most powerful and ruthless in Chinese history—but it lasted less than 100 years, after their attempts to replace Chinese culture with Mongolian culture failed.
Xiang sees a similar dynamic unfolding in China and around the world today.
“When traditional Chinese culture comes back, it’s a momentum and force that no power or political party can stop.” The buds of this cultural renaissance have already begun flowering, Xiang says, and will “shape the future of China.”
He added: “There is a cultural renaissance, and Shen Yun is leading it!”
Former US Naval Secretary: “I’d Recommend the Performance to Everyone”
B.J. Penn, former acting secretary of the U.S. Navy, at the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance on Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy of NTD Television)
Former acting secretary of the U.S. Navy, B.J. Penn, attended the performance with his wife, Loretta, for the second time in as many years, and said everybody needs to experience Shen Yun.
He said that he would “recommend the performance to everyone,” adding that he was going to immediately call his friends to get tickets to upcoming shows.
“I have several friends in Providence, Rhode Island so I’m going to call them tonight and tell them they must see this show when it gets there.”
Mr. Penn was the assistant secretary of the Navy in the U.S Department of the Navy from 2005 to 2009. He also served as acting U.S. Secretary of the Navy from March to May 2009.
He said that Shen Yun’s depiction of traditional Chinese culture and values is “good for the world.”
“The message was good—the world is changing and I think this show depicted that,” he concluded.
Loretta Penn, president of Spherion Staffing Services, at the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance on Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy of NTD Television)
Mrs. Penn, who is the president of executive coaching company Spherion Staffing Services, agreed with her husband and said the ability to effectively convey such a powerful message was extraordinary.
“When you think of the thought behind that, and what it goes into putting something like this together, and to get the message out at the same time, that takes extraordinary talent and commitment from everyone who’s part of this organization,” she said. “It was excellent.”
Shen Yun’s collection of story-based dance dramas really appealed to Mrs. Penn, who said the production was spectacular.
“The art of each individual, to be able to dance so perfectly, and then to tell the story so well, and of course the color, the background, all of the things to make the people look so beautiful—together it was truly spectacular,” she enthused.
“I enjoyed it immensely!”
Chinese People Happy to Experience Shen Yun
Having recently arrived in the United States from Jiangsu Province, China, Ms. Li said that although she had watched Shen Yun DVDs while in the mainland, attending the show in person was a completely different experience.
Being a psychiatry intern, Ms. Li senses that Shen Yun’s artists are performing with their soul: “I feel like they are being supported by a great force of faith.”
“The show presented traditional Chinese culture. I loved every bit of it, especially the erhu performance. Before today, I had never thought of the erhu’s tone as anything but shrill and melancholy, but today I truly saw its grace and beauty. If my mother was here, she’d love watching Shen Yun, too,” she explained.
“Why can’t a Chinese cultural show be seen in its homeland?” the Shen Yun website asks. “The explanation dates back to the Cultural Revolution and systematic attempts to wipe out the heritage of 5,000 years of civilization. Shen Yun’s mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture,” the website states.
Mr. Zhang, another audience member from Washington D.C., had attended Shen Yun several times. He said that after seeing a show, he goes home with a different experience every time. This time, he was especially awed by the show’s backdrops.
“When the Sand Monk jumped out of the river, [“Sand Monk Is Blessed”] he seemed to come to life. Those splashes and waves were just so real.”
He says, “Shen Yun’s classical Chinese dance is the emblem of traditional Chinese culture. The performers are gentle and natural and exhibit a high level of self-cultivation. We should live and act the way Shen Yun performers do.”
Through Shen Yun, the true essence of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization is brought to audiences around the world.
Mr. Zhang concluded by saying that he appreciated the moral values exhibited in Shen Yun and the dedication of its performers.
Category: Shen Yun Performing Arts