NEW YORK, New York — As Shen Yun continues its 13-show run in New York City, the performing arts troupe was warmly received during its first sold-out weekend at the world-renowned Lincoln Center.
Founded in 2006, Shen Yun is the world’s premier Classical Chinese dance and music company — showcasing a brand new production each year to highlight the beauty and richness of traditional Chinese history and culture spanning over 5,000 years. The performances skillfully integrate classical Chinese dance, ethnic and folk dancing, ancient legends, contemporary narratives of modern-day China, and a live orchestra — taking audiences on a stunning voyage through time and place.
Beauty and ‘liveliness of Chinese culture’
Hanna Vandenbulcke, a copy editor and proofreader for food company Chobani, expressed her appreciation for Shen Yun’s depiction of traditional Chinese culture, and said she enjoyed being able to share the experience with her four-year-old son, Florian.
“The liveliness of [Chinese] culture, I wasn’t aware of that at all,” said Vandenbulcke, adding, “I’m glad that I can introduce my son to that without him having any previous indoctrination from any of the current [Communist] culture there.”
Vandenbulcke also shared how she was familiar with the persecution of Falun Dafa — having previously seen demonstrations and protests throughout the city.
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Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that combines meditation exercises with a moral philosophy based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance (真善忍). After becoming widely popular in China in the 1990s — with millions of people, including high-ranking government officials taking up the practice — the communist authorities launched a brutal persecution campaign of its estimated 100 million practitioners in July 1999.
“I knew about [Falun Gong] because in Union Square, quite a few years ago, there was a lot of protesting about that,” said Vandenbulcke, adding that she believed it important to educate her son about oppression, and how some people in the world aren’t given the same rights and freedoms as those in the U.S.
Vandenbulcke added that she appreciated the authenticity of Shen Yun’s portrayal of the persecution of Falun Dafa, and said her son loved the dance pieces about the mischievous Monkey King, his epic voyages, and the special effects used in “Sacred Quest Through Vermillion Kingdom.”
‘Go buy tickets and see the show’
After attending Shen Yun’s performance on April 9, Ana Luisa, who works as a writer and manager, shared with reporters that she deeply enjoyed the show, despite English being her second language.
“I think [Shen Yun] is a show that you have to see. It’s really beautiful — the dresses, the way they dance, the art of it,” Ana Luisa said, adding, “The performance itself is just beautiful; if you want to be exposed to a new culture, just go and buy the tickets to see the show.”
Shen Yun’s award-winning dancers and acrobats — who hail from all over the world — are accompanied by a live orchestra that blends classical Western and Chinese instruments to create a unique and harmonious soundscape. The result is a beautiful fusion of sound that takes the audience on a journey through the history and culture of China — with music ranging from classical to traditional folk style.
In addition, Shen Yun’s use of a high-tech integrative, digital backdrop brings scenes from different dynasties, celestial realms, and ethnic regions to life; the show is also guided by two emcees who explain each segment in both English and Chinese — making it more accessible to a wider audience.
Bringing joy and hope
Rano Rahimi, who works as a dental assistant, came to see Shen Yun’s performance on April 9 alongside her mother and daughter. When asked if there was a particular piece that stood out to her, she said, “The dances depicting traditional Chinese dance, those were some of the best.”
Rahimi also shared with reporters how Shen Yun’s closing act — which conveyed how modern-day technology has led to societal changes — was very impactful and memorable, while still being able to depict a wide range of emotions with minimal movements. She felt that it spoke to the rapid trajectory of change in society, but the dance brought her renewed hope in humanity.
Rahimi’s mother, Nacima, a physician specializing in women’s health, was equally enthused about the performance. “Everything was amazing — the flexibility, the culture,” she told reporters with the help of Rano’s translation.
“I definitely recommend [for people] to see it, at least once in your life. That’s for sure,” added Rano.
Shen Yun will perform in Lincoln Center through Sunday, April 16.
For more information on the performing arts troupe, including FAQs, upcoming performances, and ticketing information, please visit the official website here.