(Minghui.org) The ever-popular New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts received rave reviews for its five sold-out performances at Michigan's elegant and ornate Detroit Opera House on January 24-27, 2013.
Chinese Immigrant Hopes Shen Yun Can Perform in China
Sophie, a Chinese immigrant, attended the Shen Yun performance with her husband and daughter.
Sophie started to choke up when she noted that each performance was imbued with many traditional Chinese values and culture. “I was touched, to be able to see a performance of traditional Chinese culture in the West. I thought … Chinese people in America, seeing traditional things from China. It is very touching.
“It is very rare to have such pure Chinese culture, such as Shen Yun … without any gimmicks, without any flamboyant designs. It is simply a pure performance of culture.
“In China, cultural performances all have different things mingled into it. It is not pure; there is less and less [pure culture]. If Shen Yun can go to Mainland China, it will be magnificent.”
Sophie added, “During the intermission, I saw a girl from China calling her friends, telling them that when she was watching Shen Yun, she cried. It was very touching.”
“An Invigorating Performance”
Karen, who also immigrated from China, watched the show with her boyfriend who from a Western country. “This is the most outstanding Chinese cultural performance I have seen in my life. I am very grateful for the [Shen Yun] performance.”
“After watching Shen Yun, I feel energized!” she enthused.
“Nothing Like Shen Yun in China”
Having just immigrated from Shandong Province to America a year ago, Li Xin (an alias) and her husband saw Shen Yun perform last year. They came again this year. Li said that she really enjoyed the performance.
Shen Yun’s “costumes and colors cannot be seen in China today. They are very beautiful,” Ms. Li said. “The performance is very traditional; you cannot see such a thing in China.”
She also noted that some of the dance sets portrayed the Chinese Communist Party's brutal persecution of the spiritual group, Falun Gong, which has been under persecution since 1999.
Many of Li Xin's relatives have also endured similar persecution, but they have now immigrated to America, where they can freely practice Falun Gong.
Shen Yun Makes Her Proud of Her Heritage
Ms. Liu, a Chinese engineer living in Detroit, said, “I am ecstatic to see our traditional dances being shown around the world. Such stylish grandeur, such excellent technology—I am hoping that I can bring my mother along next time.”
“Seeing so many Americans and people of other nationalities loving our culture, I am so proud,” she added.
Ms. Liu also appreciated the fact that so many “young people are promoting our culture. I am delighted,” she said, adding, “I am very surprised.”
Erhu Virtuoso: “Shen Yun Brings Back Memories”
Ms. Wei is an erhu virtuoso from China. “I love the performance. It makes me homesick,” she said of Shen Yun.
“The performance is great, and the reputation of the performance has preceded itself. For a long time I have wanted to come, but I didn’t make it. A good friend of mine who also lives in the United States told me that she watched the show last year and it was great. So, here I am,” Ms. Wei explained.
Chinese Lawyer: “Hoping China Will Be Under the Grace of God”
Also in the audience was Ms. Wu Zhaohui, a lawyer from China, who had arrived in the United States just four months ago. She brought along family and friends, a total of nine people, to see Shen Yun perform on the afternoon of January 26.
“I have never seen such an exquisite performance. Throughout the show, tears just kept coming down my cheeks. I am speechless at how excited and joyful I am,” she said.
As a lawyer, Ms. Wu has personally experienced the true nature of the Communist Party. That is why she was deeply moved by the pieces showing the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Ms. Wu said that although it was performers who acted out the persecution on stage, in reality, it has accurately portrayed the situation in China.
“Seeing the last dance, Divine Mercy, was just like the prophecy,” Ms. Wu said. She added, “I hope that China will be under the grace of God.”
Orchestral Musician: “Everyone Should See Shen Yun”
Professional musician Doug Cornelsen attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Detroit Opera House, on Jan. 24. Of the Shen Yun Orchestra's performance he said, “It's a fascinating blend of sounds.” (Photo courtesy of NTD Television)
Doug Cornelsen, a 40-year veteran clarinet player with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, spoke highly of the show.
“I am absolutely enjoying the orchestra—it’s a fabulous orchestra,” Mr. Cornelsen said. He said that he would like to tell everyone in the world to see Shen Yun.
Mr. Cornelsen once performed as a member of the United States Marine Band and the White House Orchestra in Washington, D.C. He has taught at Oakland University since 1972, is a founding member of the Detroit Chamber & Strings, and serves in the office of vice-president for the Detroit Federation of Musicians, where he writes a column called “Symphony Corner” for the quarterly newsletter.
He said that the Shen Yun Orchestra had “two wonderful clarinet players in the orchestra.”
He liked how the composers combined traditional and ancient Chinese instruments with the classical style of the Western orchestra, full of strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass instruments.
“It’s a very, very skillful blend of traditional and ethnic orchestral instruments with modern orchestral instruments,” Mr. Cornelsen enthused.
“I noticed the list of composers in the program have done a wonderful job of combining these two elements in music; the classical and the traditional ethnic instruments,” he said. “It’s a fascinating blend of sounds.”
Mr. Cornelsen also noticed how Shen Yun composers “put the instruments together in a way that is able to be choreographed very well with the dancers.”
Mr. Cornelsen also enjoyed the Shen Yun dancers, saying they are fabulous and that it was a wonderful performance.
“I think everyone should see it because ethnic music, ethnic art, and ethnic dancing is becoming more and more rare in the world. It is so fabulous to see an absolutely top-notch presentation of ethnic art. It’s really wonderful,” Mr. Cornelsen said.
“I think it’s fabulous,” he added.
“I also liked the way the show concentrates on the values of humanity, peace, and cooperation,” Mr. Cornelsen said.
He said that Shen Yun presents “very good values and very good thoughts,” referring to the ancient principles that Chinese society had once adhered to.
Mr. Cornelsen quoted one line from the program book that caught his eye: “When the arts of a society is healthy, our society is healthy.”
“I think that’s an expression that comes off very well with this show,” Mr. Cornelsen said.
Seeing many musical productions and dance productions throughout the years, and then attending Shen Yun, Mr. Cornelsen said that anybody who has seen as many productions as he has, realizes that Shen Yun is at “a very high level!”
“The dancers, the musicians, and obviously the stage directors, have a very high level of professional attainment,” he explained.
“If you look at the biographies of the artists in the programs, you can see that they are very, highly trained, and very skillful,” he said.
Shen Yun’s digital backdrops also impressed Mr. Cornelsen. He said that they are one of the nicest things about the show and that he has never seen a digital backdrop like Shen Yun’s before.
“Don’t miss this show—don’t miss it!” Mr. Cornelsen exclaimed. “It’s unique. There is no other show like this and it’s a wonderful presentation. I would say don’t miss it!”
Dance Teacher: “Shen Yun an 11 on a Scale of 1-10”
Sally Doerr attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Detroit Opera House on Jan. 25. (Photo courtesy of NTD Television)
Having trained dancers in Michigan for over 30 years, Sally Doerr said that she found inspiration in Shen Yun. “I’m getting a lot of ideas for things that I could introduce into my own studio.”
Ms. Doerr is the owner of Flex Point Performing Arts Center, a dance studio that teaches a variety of dance styles, including ballet, jazz, and musical theater. She is also co-director of Burn The Floor, an annual summer dance camp.
Many of Ms. Doerr’s students have received prestigious awards and gone on to professional careers in dance, including on Broadway.
The dance trainer said that she loved the entire show, but was particularly impressed with the dancers.
“They’re just up there, they’re having a great time, and they’re living and breathing every single moment,” she enthused.
“They make it look very easy, but I know for a fact that it’s very athletic and just very hard for them to do. The training would be a lot,” she explained.
Classical Chinese dance is, alongside ballet, one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world. Passed down through the people and imperial and ancient plays, it has developed a vast, systematic, and distinctly Chinese dance form.
Ms. Doerr noted the time and effort that the dancers must have put into the performance as well as “the motivation and inspiration that went into every moment,” she said. “I am almost a little speechless!”
The dancers' endurance and their ability to perform the dances without being out of breath particularly fascinated her.
“They sure don’t show it. They’re just beautiful,” she said. “They look like they are loving life every second that they are up there.”
The choreography also impressed Ms. Doerr. She found that the dancers were telling a story through their body movements. “They are speaking it through their bodies, their movements, their formation, and through their connection with each other. It’s really great,” she said.
Ms. Doerr also appreciated the quality of Shen Yun’s hundreds of handmade costumes, having worked on putting costumes together for her students.
“The costuming looks extremely expensive. I can’t even imagine how it would be to put all the rhinestones on,” she said. Ms. Doerr was particularly impressed by the use of silk and the fluidity of movement that it gave the dancers.
She also talked about the Shen Yun Orchestra, saying that dancers are very lucky to dance to a live orchestra.
“The music is beautiful. It shows a lot of emotion with the dancers…it is heartwarming and funny. It is really great,” she said.
She added, “I am so glad I had an opportunity to come see this.” Mrs. Doerr said that she will talk to her dance students about Shen Yun, and how wonderful it is, and encourage them to attend the show.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, it is definitely an 11. It is very good,” Ms. Doerr concluded.
Martial Artist: Shen Yun “Left a Message about People, Spirit, and Energy”
Robert and Laura Chartier enjoyed an evening at Shen Yun Performing Arts in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of The Epoch Times)
Also in the audience was Laura Chartier, who attended the performance with her husband, Robert.
“It was beautiful to watch,” Mrs. Chartier said.
“It was great,” Mr. Chartier added. “I think it left a message about people, spirit, and energy and about some struggles that may be going on in mainland China that a lot people aren’t aware of. The show brought it to light in a very subtle way.”
The couple established the Okinawan Karate Clawson Dojo in 1996 and both hold a 6th Degree Black Belt, and teach traditional martial arts.
“Being martial artists, we completely understand the effort and energy that goes into the incredible choreography,” Mrs. Chartiers said. “We are very enlightened about some of the oppression going in China right now, even in 2013. Who would believe it?”
She totally enjoyed the storytelling aspect of the dance performances: “The stories are really great. One of the stories I enjoyed mostly was … the little mischievious young monks.” She said that the senior monk comes upon their mischief and gives them a stern look. Mrs. Chartiers joked, “As martial arts instructors, we know that feeling: “Hey, you guys, knock it off.”
“I enjoyed the male dancers a lot,” Mrs. Chartier said. “The female dancers are always beautiful, but the male dancers I thought were really strong,” she said, mentioning their aerial flips and tumbling moves.
“I thought mixing in the opera singing [among the dance performances] was a nice touch—how it integrated into the show,” Mr. Chartier said.
Mrs. Chartier agreed and stated that the soloist had an unbelievable voice.
“The songs were very passionate,” Mr. Chartier said and when he understood “[Falun Gong practitioners'] struggle to express their spirituality from the place where they live, I got that more from the songs.”
Mr. Chartier elaborated, “It’s another venue to spread the realism of what goes on in the world today because what goes on in the media, we [naturally] become desensitized to the strife of many people. You see it in the news that’s been going on in China for 20 years, but it is not as in your face. This is something that makes you realize.”
“We came out feeling this is more than just a dance show,” Mrs. Chartier said.
Business Couple: “Shen Yun a Sentimental Journey”
Bill Halbert and Terrie Boicourt enjoy an evening at Shen Yun Performing Arts in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of The Epoch Times)
When Bill proposed to Terrie on the Great Wall of China in 2011, it was inevitable that Chinese culture will always play a special role in their relationship. In an effort to deepen their appreciation for the culture, the couple attended Shen Yun Performing Arts performance.
New York-based Shen Yun aims to restore and revitalize 5,000 years of divinely inspired culture. It brings ancient stories of wisdom to life through classical Chinese dance and music.
“It’s wonderful, and what I like is that all my senses, so many of my senses, are assaulted, which is not a really good word because it’s so beautiful. I love watching the colors, the fluidity of the movement, and the music is superb. I am really, really enjoying it, the music, in addition to the dance,” said Terrie Boicourt, a retired project manager for Chrysler.
“The dancing is extraordinary,” said Bill Halbert, a longtime stock broker for Morgan Stanley, whose son dances professionally. “It is amazing,” he said of Shen Yun’s dancing.
“I like the women because they’re very colorful, the men because they’re very masculine,” he explained.
“And they’re extraordinarily athletic. Their athletic ability is amazing,” he added.
The modern Shen Yun stories depicted through dance, which show the courage of people standing up for their beliefs despite being persecuted by the Chinese Communist regime, both surprised and pleased Ms. Boicourt.
“I guess I’m glad for the reminder because that’s kind of hidden from us, and so it’s good to remember that there are people who don’t have as many freedoms as we do, that there are still people who have the courage to struggle, to stand up for what they believe in. Sometimes I think we have it easy in the United States; we don’t always appreciate what we have,” she said.
The performance features a collection of story-based classical Chinese and ethnic or folk dances that capture the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
“That’s very nice as well … we’re learning about all the different cultures in China, and that’s something I also don’t think of usually in the United States, is how many different cultures there are within China. So many ethnic groups—so it’s a reminder that it’s a big country,” she said.