STAMFORD, CT — On April 30, Shen Yun wrapped up five sold-out shows at the city’s acclaimed Palace Theater, with audience members raving on the performing company’s beautiful dancing and choreography, vibrant costumes, gravity-defying acrobatics, live music, and more.
Founded in 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts is widely regarded as the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. Based in New York, Shen Yun is currently composed of eight equally-sized companies that tour and perform around the world simultaneously.
‘Everything is beautiful’
Steve Vlumenarantz, a software engineer from Massachusetts, drove three and a half hours to see the show on April 29.
“The show is very much worthwhile, this is my third time seeing Shen Yun, and I love it,” said Vlumenarantz who came to see the performance with his daughter.
Throughout the show, Shen Yun’s performers take the audience on an immersive journey through 5,000 years of traditional Chinese history — showcasing the beauty and depth of Chinese culture and art prior to the ravages of communism. From ancient legends, ethnic folk dances, and myths to modern-day stories of courage and oppression, Shen Yun’s performances are a celebration of China’s rich heritage, culture, and artistic traditions.
“[The show] changes the way you feel about things,” said Vlumenarantz, adding that “It was very informative about how people who practice Falun Dafa in China are persecuted and horrible things happen to them.”
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, 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.
The crackdown would see millions of people imprisoned for taking up the faith, with many thousands suffering torture or forced labor; according to incomplete statistics, more than 4,000 Falun Gong adherents have been confirmed dead at the hands of the Chinese authorities.
“It’s really sad that [Shen Yun performers] have to basically go to the rest of the world to tell people about what’s happening in China,” said Vlumenarantz, adding, “I wish more people knew about what’s happening, so that there would be a lot more condemnation.”
When asked about whether he would recommend the show to family and friends, Vlumenarantz said, “Definitely, I have [recommended it] to friends. We’ve brought people to previous shows; my whole family has seen it, and I would suggest it to anyone because just the dancing alone is well worth it.”
‘It really was divine’
Jeanette Dippolito, an assistant principal of an elementary school, shared with reporters that this was her first time seeing Shen Yun.
“I was very happy to hear that it’s a different show every year; I didn’t know that and it was very surprising to hear,” said Dippolito, who attended the performance on April 29 with her daughter, Gia.
“It was so beautiful — I can’t believe the skill of the dancers. I don’t know how their bodies move that way; they are so skilled,” Dippolito said, adding that the performance “gave her chills,” and the way the dancers moved looked like they were “gliding and floating” onstage.
Shen Yun, which means the beauty of divine beings dancing, resonated deeply with Dippolito, who said, “[The show] really was divine, and we want to do more research because we learned a lot from the program; there’s a lot about [Chinese] history that we want to find out about.”
Shen Yun’s shows aspire to do more than just entertain, they also seek to enlighten audiences on critical issues taking place in China today. Furthermore, the performances offer a distinctive outlook on the human soul while underscoring the significance of not taking certain freedoms for granted.
“It’s heartbreaking to think about what [the people in China] are going through and how beautiful the culture is,” Dippolito said as she fought back tears. “It really did move me,” she added.
When asked about how the mother-duo heard about Shen Yun, Gia said her mom was able to get tickets after seeing advertisements for the show and thinking “they looked so colorful and beautiful.”
“Everything was sold out, we were very lucky to be able to get tickets,” said Dippolito, adding, “If we had come with a bigger crowd, we may not have been as lucky. You have to buy your tickets early.”
‘It felt like magic’
Robin, and Trvena Khan, came to see Shen Yun on April 29 for the first time. The pair shared with reporters that the show was “very organized and artistic,” and that they would definitely be coming back for future performances.
“The show is really good; I watched a lot of YouTube videos before coming here and you can really learn a lot about [authentic Chinese] culture and dancing,” said Robin, adding, “It’s very colorful, systematic, and very well done; It’s really nice.”
When asked about what stood out to her the most, Trvena said, “I liked the synchronization, grace, and colorful costumes. I can’t stop my eyes.”
Shen Yun’s use of a high-tech integrative, digital backdrop brings scenes from different landscapes, celestial realms, and ethnic regions to life — giving the illusion of the performers jumping in and out different time periods and ancient dynasties. The performers’ costumes are adorned with intricate designs, vibrant colors, and beautiful fabrics that add to the beauty and magic of each performance.
“I liked the backdrop and how people were going in and out of it. The timing and the positioning was really amazing; it felt like magic,” added Robin.
Through the seamless integration of classical Chinese dance, ethnic and folk dancing, ancient legends, contemporary narratives, and a live orchestra that combines traditional Chinese and classical Western instruments, Shen Yun takes the audience on a breathtaking journey through time and space.
When asked about his favorite pieces, Robin said, “I liked two dances in particular: the ‘Water Sleeves’ and the opening piece about the Divine.”
‘Orchestra was stellar’
Rick Friedman, a data architect, attended Shen Yun’s performance on April 29 with his wife.
“My experience with the performance was that every single scene was unique, the costumes were phenomenal, [as well] as the color and flow. The orchestra was stellar and I found the two-string instrument to be gorgeous,” said Mrs. Friedman.
The two-string instrument that Friedman mentions is the erhu: a traditional instrument from ancient China that can represent a wide range of emotions and musical tones.
When asked about what stood out to her the most, she said, “It really was divine and universal,” adding that it’s a shame that such a wonderful show cannot be seen in China today. “Thankfully in the U.S., we welcome the beliefs and performances of others, and it’s something that we really need to cherish.”
For more information on the performing arts troupe, including FAQs, upcoming performances, and ticketing information, please visit the official website here.