Shen Yun a magical exploration of ancient Chinese culture

Brittney Dear, Editor

A group of artists in New York joined together in 2006 to provide a magical experience to audiences, a performance which revives the lost Chinese culture from nearly 5,000 years ago. With the country now controlled by the Chinese Communist Party — with freedom of expression being viewed as a threat — the group’s goal is to rebel against China’s newly formed beliefs. Most of the group’s young artists were born in China, or at least have family there, but some, such as Astrid Martig and Milen Nachev, are from Germany and Bulgaria. This heroically beautiful group calls itself “Shen Yun.”

Shen Yun in Chinese means “divine dancer.” Long ago, China was called Shen Zhou — Land of the Divine. Shen Yun is a story-based dance group, with 19 lovely stories conveyed over a two-hour period.However, some of the performances were opera-based or simply focused on the Chinese instrument Erhu, a two-stringed instrument that plays a very important role in Chinese culture. The Erhu was believed to heal any disease or injury with the enchanted melody of its music.

According to Shen Yun, China used to be a country of beauty, dance and harmony, with their main religion being Buddhism. In many of the stories, Buddha rescued the believers with bright lights beaming from him, and he guided them toward the right path. China also used to practice Falun Dafa, a meditation discipline and self-improvement tradition. Falun Dafa is seen many times throughout the performance, being known to be rooted in China’s ancient spiritual traditions, its practitioners striving to live by the principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance.

The Shen Yun performance was exceptional: The orchestra’s music was so captivating that, even if it had only featured the orchestra, the show would still have been marvelous.The costumes, which are all handmade, were striking, the vibrant colors fitting perfectly with the backgrounds and the flowing fabrics elegantly twirling about as they danced. I was mesmerized as I watched, not wanting it to end. If I could relive it, I would.

I normally see musicals such as “Beauty and the Beast” and” Phantom of the Opera”; my grandma and I have made it into a sort of tradition. But I have no regrets for shaking things up and going to Shen Yun. It was a fun experience, and I was able to explore Chinese culture in a way I haven’t before,. After the performance, I felt entirely at peace.

Several times throughout Shen Yun, the artists spoke of life’s purpose, and living based on thriving within the moment and enjoying the world’s wonders instead of just concerning oneself with wealth and status. The message made me think about what my purpose was. The Chinese culture they presented seemed so beautiful. I wanted to live in harmony with them, too.

Shen Yun’s performances are different each year. The group should be back to perform in Dallas in February of 2018. For more information on the group, please click here.