ESCONDIDO, Calif.—Company director Lara James experienced Shen Yun Performing Arts for the first time at the California Center for the Arts on Feb 12. Though Ms. James had no idea what to expect as she stepped into the theater, as soon as the curtain went up, she knew she was in for a treat.
“It was absolutely amazing—the colors, the dance, learning about the culture, it was truly tremendous!” Ms. James exclaimed. “A lot of effort and talent went into it—youth and energy.”
Based in New York, Shen Yun is the world’s top classical Chinese dance and music company.
In addition to solo performances and folk dances inspired by the various regions of China, Shen Yun presents short story-based dances that tell tales from ancient times to the modern day. Each year, the company returns with a brand-new set of programs.
Having learned about Shen Yun’s mission to revive traditional culture and bring back China’s lost glory, Ms. James said she was touched by the company’s presentation of these values.
“The pieces that addressed [values] such as the willingness to sacrifice oneself for belief and for love [were] really moving,” Ms. James said.
She thought it was a wonderful thing that Shen Yun demonstrates for the world a China before communism.
“I love that. It was joyous. There’s a tremendous amount of culture and history that was built into [Shen Yun] and that made me more curious to learn about China.”
Ms. James was not at all surprised that Shen Yun is banned by the Chinese Communist Party from performing in China.
“Living here in America, it’s amazing that we can say and do pretty much what we want as long as we’re not harming others,” Ms. James said. “You can’t express your opinion openly in China even through dance and storytelling. [The performance] reminded me to appreciate what we have here.”
‘Something New Every Time’
Also at the matinee were Dr. Nelson Westerhout and his wife, Lisa. Shen Yun’s performance kept the couple on the edge of their seats the whole time.
“The curtain goes down, and you don’t know what’s coming next, then it comes up and it’s something new—it’s exciting. You see something new every time the curtain comes up,” Dr. Westerhout said.
Dr. Nelson Westerhout and his wife, Lisa, at Shen Yun Performing Arts at the California Center for the Arts on Feb. 12, 2023. (Jane Yang/The Epoch Times(
For Mrs. Westerhout, there was an extra surprise.
“I’ve got hearing loss. So, the communication of the show—being able to visually understand what’s going on [through] the dancers was amazing,” she said.
“I love it, I love it! It’s very uplifting and very educational. I was looking forward to seeing it and it’s definitely gone above my expectations,” she said.
Referring to China’s ban on Shen Yun and the company’s mission to revive traditional Chinese culture, Dr. Westerhout said, “I can’t understand why something as nice as this would not be allowed back in their own country. It’s ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all.”
“[Shen Yun] is definitely making a big impact. I think it’s great. Hopefully, this will open people’s eyes and spread the word.”
Reporting by NTD, Jane Yang, and Jennifer Tseng.
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.