SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — After concluding five sold out performances in the Caribbean nation’s acclaimed Eduardo Brito National Theater, delighted theatergoers raved about Shen Yun — dazzled by the production’s gravity-defying acrobatics, vibrant colors, music, and choreography.
Made up of a large ensemble of elite artists comprising more than 500 dancers, musicians, and vocalists, Shen Yun has eight equally-sized companies that perform around the world simultaneously — with Shen Yun’s Touring Arts troupe making their way down to launch the island nation’s inaugural shows. According to local organizers, tickets sold out so quickly that an extra show in Santiago was added in an effort to meet customer demand.
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“It’s truly a show worth experiencing,” said Carmen Heredia, the country’s former Minister of Culture. “I invite everyone to come and take part in this wonderful show.”
“The folkloric part was very beautiful. The classical Chinese dancing was incredible, and the dancers were excellent,” said Heredia — a lifelong art critic — adding, “Besides that, the choreography was very good. The synchronization was wonderful. It was pure magic.”
Founded in 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. Based in New York, the company aims to revive traditional, ancient culture and values through breathtaking performances — all while showcasing what China was like prior to the ravages of communist rule.
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The company has since expanded to perform in more than 150 cities worldwide on an annual basis — including in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia — captivating audiences of all ages and backgrounds with intricate and colorful costumes, ancient legends, and modern accounts of religious persecution.
In addition to its stunning visual elements and use of high-tech special effects that bring the audience on an immersive journey through time and space, Shen Yun’s performances are also deeply spiritual and seek to convey a message of hope, inspiration, and dignity.
The dances and musical pieces aim to inspire a sense of wonder and appreciation for the richness of traditional Chinese culture, and to promote universal values such as compassion, respect for life, and the pursuit of truth.
‘The spiritual connotation is profound’
Miguel Contreras attended Shen Yun’s evening performance on Feb. 6. A physician specializing in gastroenterology, he praised the performance for showcasing “ancient Chinese culture with beautiful dance and superb skills.”
“You can really tell that Shen Yun performers have undergone arduous training and [they] must be incredibly motivated and focused to be able to perform so beautifully,” Contreras shared with reporters, adding that, “The spiritual connotation is the foundation for the success of this performance, and it’s very profound. I really believe that every audience member can see the spiritual connotation shown in the performance.”
One of the show’s key themes is the depiction of Chinese persevering in their faith despite persecution, particularly in modern-day Communist China. Through powerful and emotive dance pieces, Shen Yun sheds light on the struggles faced by practitioners of Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual discipline that has been banned and harshly suppressed in mainland China.
Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa (法輪大法), was first imparted to the public in 1992 by its founder Mr. Li Hongzhi. The practice teaches that through mind-body cultivation, practitioners can elevate in levels and attain a higher spiritual realm. However, on July 20, 1999, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a brutal campaign to try and eradicate the practice after witnessing its rapid rise in popularity as a threat to its authoritarian regime.
Since then, a vast yet still-indeterminate number of Falun Gong practitioners have been killed by the regime — many of them murdered in Chinese state-run hospitals to fuel the CCP’s highly lucrative organ transplant industry.
Shen Yun’s dances showcase the bravery and resilience of oppressed individuals as they fight to maintain their beliefs in the face of immense adversity. These performances not only entertain, but also educate audiences on important social and political issues while providing a unique perspective on the human spirit and the importance of not taking the freedoms we enjoy in the West for granted.
A global phenomenon
Other highlights of Shen Yun’s performances include the unique cultural and historical background of the dances. Each piece tells a story or expresses a cultural value, such as courage, compassion, and honor. Some of the dances also depict the spiritual aspect of traditional Chinese culture — including scenes of heavenly realms, and traditional beliefs in the divine, and the afterlife.
Dr. Sara Vargas shared with reporters how the show was the perfect outing to bring her family to. “This was a very, very satisfying experience. We really loved watching and experiencing Shen Yun,” she said, adding, “I appreciated the artistic mastery of the performers, and being able to see and experience the colorful dances was a wonderful event for our family.”
Vargas’ husband, Wilmer Guzman, said, “It was really a wonderful experience; the dances were incredible to watch, and our whole family thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Shen Yun’s dancers and acrobats — who hail from all over the world — perform graceful and athletic movements, bringing to life stories of ancient dynasties, traditional ethnic dances, legendary figures, and modern-day China. They are accompanied by a live orchestra that blends classical Western and Chinese instruments to create a unique and soul-stirring soundscape.
“Listening to the music and what the lyrics convey, it stirred up a lot of feelings in us,” the couple added.
Shen Yun’s last performance in the Dominican Republic took place on Feb. 7 at 8:30 p.m. EST at the Grand Theater of Cibao in Santiago, DR.
For more information on Shen Yun Performing Arts, including FAQs and ticketing information, please visit the official website here.