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‘An extension of their souls’: Shen Yun Continues to Wow at Lincoln Center

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: April 8, 2024
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. Here, a packed house is seen during curtain call for Shen Yun's performance in St. Petersburg, Florida on April 1, 2023. (Image: Emily Jiang/Vision Times)

NEW YORK, New York — After kicking off a highly anticipated 14-show run at the city’s prestigious Lincoln Center, audience members couldn’t get enough of Shen Yun’s vibrant dancing, choreography, gravity-defying acrobatics, live orchestra, and immersive digital backdrops. 

With nearly all tickets sold out, theatergoers lucky enough to secure seats are raving about this year’s brand new production. Due to the show’s popularity, the company added extra performances to meet popular demand. 

Founded in 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. The company, which is based in New York, aims to revive 5,000 years of traditional culture and values through immersive performances to showcase what China was like before communism. 

‘An extension of their souls’

Ernesto and Amanda Ruiz, attended Shen Yun’s performance for the first time on April 4. When asked about what they enjoyed the most, Ernesto said, “I was enchanted — it was out of this world.”

When asked about what he enjoyed the most, Ernesto said, “I liked the water sleeves dance because it felt like an extension of their soul, the way the material flowed outside of their body.”

Ernesto and Amanda Ruiz, a retired IT professional, and former customer representative, attended Shen Yun’s performance in Lincoln Center on April 3, 2024. (Image: Vision Times Staff)

He further elaborated, “The colors, the stories, the music; everything was amazing. You feel really in touch with Chinese culture after seeing it and you also feel relaxed afterwards.” 

RELATED: ‘A new breath of life’: Shen Yun’s Opening Night at Lincoln Center Met With Resounding Acclaim

Ernesto, a retired IT professional, also shared that experiencing Shen Yun felt like he was flying. “It almost feels like you’re flying when you close your eyes and listen to the music,” he said. 

Shen Yun’s performances, which are complemented by a live orchestra that combine both classical Chinese and Western instruments, take audiences on a soul-stirring journey through time and space.

“The colors were incredible to see,” said Amanda, who used to work as a customer representative. “The dancing and music, everything was wonderful. The music was really relaxing and transforms you back to China — it really feels like you are in ancient China watching the show,” she added. 

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)

‘Truly enlightening’

After attending Shen Yun for the first time, Erik and Norma Holland told reporters that the show was “really fantastic,” and “truly enlightening.”

“I loved the artistry of how [the performers] were trained in folklore dancing,” said Erik, who works as a car salesman. “They’re very skillful and they make it look so easy even though I know it’s not.”

When asked about what aspect stood out to him the most, Erik said, “I could follow the whole storyline,” he pointed out. “It’s easily translated and that’s a testament to the choreographers and dancers that are putting out entire stories through their dancing.”

Erik and Norma Holland, a car salesman and former business executive, attended Shen Yun’s performance in Lincoln Center on April 3, 2024. (Image: Vision Times Staff)

Made up of a large ensemble of elite artists comprising more than 500 dancers, musicians, and vocalists, Shen Yun currently has eight equally-sized companies that tour and perform across Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Oceania simultaneously. 

RELATED: ‘Beautiful!’: Shen Yun Wows Audiences in Multiple Sold Out Lincoln Center Performances

Erik and Norma, who grew up in New York City to Chinese parents, said the performance left them feeling uplifted and inspired. “We grew up in a very traditional Chinese home where we weren’t allowed to speak English once you stepped in the door,” said Norma, adding, “My parents were very old-fashioned — they were actually paired up by a matchmaker and were together for 65 years, so this feels like a special way to honor them.”

“The show is really fantastic — it’s enlightening,” said Norma, a former executive who now works part-time at a clinic for children with special needs. “My parents were lucky because they left China just before it turned communist, so they were very lucky in that sense.”

She added, “We used to work for an international company based in Bristol, England so that’s why we were able to travel. I got to travel all over the world, including China and Japan.”

“I love how in sync the dancers were. They all seemed almost computerized — and it was beautiful to see; just gorgeous,” added Erik. 

‘[Shen Yun] is restoring the world’

“I loved the show,” said Chris Muth, who works in specialty finishes for people’s homes. Muth specializes in gold leafing, faux stones, Venetian plaster, etc. 

Chris Muth, a self-employed designer who specializes in gold leafing, faux stones, and Venetian plaster, attended Shen Yun’s performance in Lincoln Center on April 3, 2024. (image: Vision Times Staff)

“What I love the most is art that tells a story, and sometimes, it tells you very meaningful and important values without using words,” said Muth, adding, “And the story that Shen Yun tells is universal — it’s about who you are, what you’re doing here on this planet, what you should be doing.”

Shen Yun’s performances aim not only to entertain; they also educate audiences on important social and political issues taking place in China today. The performances aim to raise awareness on human rights’ issues to provide a unique perspective on the human spirit and the importance of not taking certain freedoms for granted. 

One of the storylines the show touches upon is the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. 

Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is a spiritual practice from ancient China that combines meditation exercises with a moral philosophy based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance (真善忍). Many of Shen Yun’s performers are children of Falun Gong practitioners, or practice the discipline themselves. 

The CCP is persecuting elderly Falun Gong practitioners
Falun Gong practitioners of Thailand hold a candlelight vigil solemnly commemorating the 23rd Anniversary of Jiang Zemin and the CCP’s persecution of the practice in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, on July 17. (Image: via

“The show changes your world view and that’s what it’s designed to do,” said Muth, adding, “It’s not just entertainment — it’s designed to change your world view and give you something new and better to look forward to. It helps people awaken their identities and bring others to find and express their better selves in the world. That’s what this show is all about.”

Finally, Muth said, “You guys are restoring the world with this show, and it’s really special.”

‘Everything was so perfect’

Tim Nuhanovic and Michelle Larson attended Shen Yun’s performance for the first time on April 3. The pair is from Sweden. 

“This show was a spontaneous outing for us, and we’re so lucky we came to see it because it’s unlike anything we’ve seen in Sweden,” said Tim, who works as a recreational/youth leader who works with kids with drug problems and troubled backgrounds. “It feels like they’ve been preparing for years, and I don’t think we’re ever going to see anything like this back in our home,” he added. 

Tim Nuhanovic (L) and Michelle Larson, from Sweden, attended Shen Yun’s performance at Lincoln Center for the first time on April 3, 2024. (Image: Vision Times Staff)

When asked about what he enjoyed the most, Tim said, “I loved how everything was so perfect, how the screen blended in with the performance, how the music and everything felt like we were watching a movie. [In fact,] it felt like it was pre-recorded because it was so in sync and perfect.”

One of the defining features of Shen Yun performances is its use of high-tech digital backdrops. The backdrops are synchronized with the live performers to create an illusion of seamless transitions between different scenes and locations. This helps to transport the audience to a world of ancient China full of vibrant landscapes, ancient legends, and awe-inspiring landmarks.

“It made me feel so many emotions,” said Tim, adding, “I kept thinking and almost had tears running down my face because it was so inspiring and wonderful to experience. It feels like it woke me from a dream and I was positively shocked after watching it.”

Michelle, who works as a counselor for kids with cancer at a Swedish hospital, agreed with her brother. “I agree with my brother — the show was amazing, every part of it,” she said, adding, “I have never seen a show like this before and I’m so glad our mom told us to come and see it” 

When asked about what she enjoyed the most, Michelle said, “Everything in the show — from the dancing and the musicians, to the colors and the cultural aspect. I loved learning about Chinese culture and history, and every part of it was breathtaking.”

“It inspired me to be a better person,” she added. 

‘Serene and beautiful’

Faith Osorio, who works in compliance, also attended Shen Yun’s performance in Lincoln Center for the first time on April 3. 

“I thought the show was very humbling, serene, and beautiful,” said Osorio, adding, “I really loved the different sounds between the traditional instruments that go back thousands of years.”

Faith Osario, a compliance officer, attended Shen Yun’s performance in Lincoln Center on April 3, 2024. (Image: Vision Tims Staff)

When asked about which aspect of Shen Yun’s live orchestra she enjoyed the most, Osorio said, “The instrument that only had two strings and was able to play so many different sounds was beautiful; I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The erhu is an instrument from ancient China that can depict a wide range of musical sounds and emotions, such as the gentle flow of a river, a mist-covered mountain, or the energetic bustle of a market day. Its two strings, played with a bow, can produce a variety of rich, expressive, and deeply resonant tones.

Shen Yun will perform at Lincoln Center through April 14. For tickets, availability, and other FAQs, visit the official website here.

With reporting by Anna Lin, Vision Times Staff