“I’m half Ukrainian … so right now, I’m very worried about Ukraine, but this gives me hope,” said Terry Zakanycz, who saw the Shen Yun in Las Vegas last February.
Shen Yun, based in New York, was founded in 2006 with the mission to revive the traditions of China’s 5,000-year-old civilization.
Since the communists took power in 1949, the regime has sought to break people’s belief in the divine, and thereby sever their ties to Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism that go back thousands of years in China.
The Communist Party has destroyed places of worship, killed monastics, and pushed society toward atheism. It promotes class struggle, battling with heaven, and has framed traditional culture as “backward” and “superstitious.”
Principles such as humans and nature being in harmony, respecting the heavens, and karmic retribution have for many years been passed down through Chinese songs and stories—and today, these principles are presented on stage in Shen Yun’s dance and lyrics, with costumes that are true to the time and location of the stories, and a projected backdrop that takes the audience through time and space.
“Happy, very happy,” said Kim Robinson, who saw the performance in Denver, Colorado. “It goes straight to your soul. You feel it inside the whole time, and I felt like I was in heaven for some of it.”
“We need that divine—it’s just so impactful,” said Susan A. Rizzo, who saw Shen Yun in Albany, New York.
Shen Yun Performing Arts has been touring all over the world for over a decade. No matter in what situation or wherever the company goes, audience members have described the performances as a spark in the dark.
“Very emotional, very spiritual. And you come away from it with a very wonderful feeling, a lot about the hope of the future,” said John Wilkins, who saw Shen Yun in Greeley, Colorado, in January.
“It kind of relaxes our mind and calms our spirit amidst all the turmoil, amidst all the pandemic and the war going on in Europe right now,” said David Tupaz after watching the performance in Las Vegas. “So it’s like a breath of fresh air.”
“I enjoy it, every second of it is just amazing,” said Carolina Vera, a clinical assistant professor at the University of North Carolina. Vera saw Shen Yun with her family of five. She said they are grateful that the performance brings peace, hope, and a reminder of the good to the world: “When you leave out of that [performance], you just feel happy. Because it’s a lot of messages that probably in this new days, we have forgotten.”
Based in New York, Shen Yun draws top artists from around the world inspired by a shared mission—reviving traditional Chinese culture through the arts—but it goes deeper than just creating a beautiful display.
“With the current affairs, seeing something like [Shen Yun], the message is so positive—the compassion, I think it’s very valuable,” said Anya Zhavoronkova, who saw the performance in London. “It was valuable yesterday, today, and it will still make sense tomorrow.”
“All the performances come down to kindness, beauty, and goodness,” said Manuel Jesús Acosta Elías, a member of the Parliament of Catalonia, Spain, who saw the performance in Sant Cugat. “Unfortunately, these sacred values are not so common in today’s society.”
For thousands of years, classical Chinese dance was used to express traditional values like a reverence for the heavens, emphasizing virtue, and the belief that good is rewarded and evil is punished.
To do that, artists looked to the divine for inspiration.
They believed that to create art that uplifts, one had to go through a process of purification, which is referred to as “self-cultivation.”
Today, Shen Yun’s artists follow this noble tradition.
According to Shen Yun’s website, alongside their rigorous training, these performers follow a spiritual discipline based on truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance—which is rooted in traditional Chinese culture.
The artists meditate together and require of themselves self-discipline and selflessness.
The company says this is one of the reasons why audience members feel there is something different about Shen Yun.
“Just the minute I sat down, I could feel like something divine [was] in the room, something present,” said Lisa Petrucco, who saw Shen Yun in New York City. “I really would say I could feel God in the room.”
And she is not the only one.
“There [was] a certain sense of spirituality and emotional calmness that I think only something like meditation could give you,” said Natasha Jouhl from London.
“The biggest thing I got was [a] divine creation, creator, and the importance of hope and remembering where we come from, as a people, as a human race,” said DeVone Boggan, CEO of Advance Peace.
NTD has covered Shen Yun since its inception, as it believes the company’s mission is culturally historic.
Audience members around the world describe the performance as rejuvenating—and even healing.
“The whole part is healing,” said Walter Dixon, who saw the performance in Syracuse, New York. “I use walking sticks. I have Parkinson’s disease. I have trouble getting in here. After the show, I walk right up out of there. I don’t know what happened.”
“My whole body’s cells trembled, and for a moment, it was as if we received some kind of soothing emotion that gently caressed us like soft cotton, making people instantly comfortable,” said Valérie Graetzer, who saw Shen Yun in Montpellier, France.
“I feel just transformed,” said Alex Kuszewski from Cleveland, Ohio. “I think it was just something that’s so powerful so that you can experience such a great elevation of feeling.”
“It made me feel that there is hope and that we’re back to some semblance that we are being normal again—and hope. Absolutely hope,” said Kaybe Youngren, who saw the performance in Las Vegas with her husband.
“I highly recommend Shen Yun, which helps us connect with our human soul and with our [traditional] values at a time when humanity is so lost,” said Cristina Martín Jiménez, who saw the performance in San Sebastian, Spain. “At this time, we all need to hold on to [traditional values], and I think [Shen Yun] is not only recommended but should be prescribed by doctors.”
“It’s so lifting,” said Mike Vasil, who saw the performance in Boise, Idaho. “There’s nothing like it. It’s worth coming every night to see the same performance.”
NTD News, New York