Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

‘Tradition Will Help You Stay Grounded’: Audience Members Reflect on Shen Yun’s Performance in Newark, NJ

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: May 10, 2023
Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world's premier classical Chinese dance and music performance, bringing to life 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture and heritage to audiences across the globe in a brand new production each year. (Image: Shen Yun Performing Arts)

NEWARK, New Jersey — On May 7, Shen Yun concluded five exhilarating sold-out shows at the distinguished Performing Arts Center in New Jersey. The audience was treated to a breathtaking display of dance choreographies, vibrant costumes, gravity-defying techniques, immersive digital backdrops, and live music, among other artistic displays. 

Established in 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts has grown to become the leading company in the world showcasing classical Chinese dance, art, and music. Through captivating and immersive performances, the company has captivated audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Shen Yun currently has eight equally-sized companies that tour and perform around the world simultaneously — showcasing a brand new production each year. 

Shen Yun’s use of high-tech digital backdrops helps to transport the audience to a whimsical world full of vibrant landscapes, celestial realms, and awe-inspiring landmarks. (Image: via Shen Yun Performing Arts)


‘I felt like I was in ancient China’

Lilly, a nurse practitioner, attended Shen Yun’s last performance in Newark on May 7 with her family and nine-year-old daughter, Myra.  

The young Myra, who plays the viola, enthusiastically shared with reporters that she loved the many “special effects and transitions” throughout the performance that gave the illusion of the dancers traveling in and out of the screen through different landscapes, dynasties, and ethnic regions.

Lilly, a nurse practitioner, attended Shen Yun’s performance in Newark, NJ with her family on May 7, 2023 (Image: Vision Times Staff)

“The transitions were so nice, and the effects helped me feel like I was actually in ancient China,” said Myra. 

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 each storyline more accessible to a wider audience. 

When asked about what she enjoyed the most, Lilly said, “I liked the part where there were clouds and smoke, and the way the monitor came to life; it looked like the dancers were levitating.” 

“The show is magical and the dancers are amazing. I was so impressed because I was looking down and saw that the singers were really singing live,” she added.

“I love the cultural aspect [of the show], and I wish there were more performances like this in the world.”

Shen Yun’s performances take audiences on a breathtaking journey through time and space by seamlessly blending classical Chinese dance, ethnic and folk dancing, ancient legends, and contemporary narratives. A live orchestra that features a harmonious fusion of traditional Chinese and classical Western instruments also serves to take the audience on an immersive and unique artistic journey. 

Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music performance, bringing to life 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture and heritage to audiences across the globe in a brand new production each year. (Image: Shen Yun Performing Arts)

‘Beautiful and inspirational’

Suhayla Jaabr, a student at Keane University, attended Shen Yun’s performance with her family on May 4.

“The show was really beautiful and inspirational. It was so heart-felt; there were so many colors and excitement,” said Jaabr, adding, “I had so many different emotions and I feel like this is a show that everyone should come and see with their family to enjoy authentic Chinese culture.”

Suhayla Jaabr, a student enrolled at Keane University, attended Shen Yun’s performance with family and friends on May 4, 2023. (Image: Vision Times Staff)

When asked about what aspect of the performance stood out to her the most, Jaabr said, “Chinese culture is very in tune with the world around them — the elements of wind, earth, fire — and how they were shown in the outfits [of the performers] and in the dancing.” 

“Just the way the dancers moved was so beautiful and in sync with the culture,” she said, adding, “The show taught me that keeping with tradition will help you stay grounded and it was a very beautiful message.”

Jaabr also touched upon the oppressive nature of China’s current communist government and shared that it struck a deep chord within her. 

“It really opened up my eyes about the government in China. I didn’t know that there were certain things going on over there and it’s something that I want to look into more,” she said, adding, “But the performance made a lot of us aware about the oppressions happening there.” 

Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners meditate through body movements to mark the 10th anniversary of the practice being outlawed in China on July 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Image: TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Shen Yun’s performances aim not only to entertain, but also educate audiences on important social and political issues taking place in China today; all while providing a unique perspective on the human spirit and the importance of not taking certain freedoms for granted. 

One of the storylines touch upon the persecution of Falun Gong adherents in China.

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.

‘I believe in a higher power’

Jaabr, who hails from Sudan, shared how those dance pieces touched her deeply. “The world is constantly changing and people have different beliefs. I’m Muslim, and I believe that there is a God that creates everything at the end of the day, so I definitely believe in a higher power.” 

When asked about whether she would recommend the show to her family and friends, Jaabr said, “This would be a program that schools and students who are interested in different cultures should come to and learn about.”

“It was just magical,” she added.

For more information on the performing arts troupe, including FAQs, upcoming performances, and ticketing information, please visit the official website here.