Shen Yun is more than just a performance. It draws upon 5,000 years of Chinese culture to create a breathtaking dance spectacle set to a live orchestra and juxtaposed against contemporary elements, such as a digital backdrop. The story-based dancing depicts themes and characters from China’s myths and legends, such as the rebellious spirit of “The Monkey King.” The themes are timeless and universal—good versus evil, faith, selflessness, kindness and tolerance.
In past shows, the audience has been transported back to the Han Dynasty, China’s first golden age. The Han imperial dancers wore long, flowing “water” sleeves, incorporated in some of the costumes and performances. Shen Yun costume designers meticulously handcraft the costumes to bring brilliant colors and vibrancy to the stories, while giving an authentic and accurate presentation of the attire.
Audiences are also transported to different ethnic regions such as the peaks of Tibet, the steppes of Mongolia or the Yi ethnic people in southwest China. Performers wear the costumes of the region and time periods, portraying the vibrant ethnic and folk dances. Several of the stories are set in a contemporary time to help the audience connect with ancient values. Past productions include the story of a modern-day Chinese teenager who visits an ancient temple. He falls asleep and dreams of wonderful scenes that inspire him to live a righteous lifestyle once he awakes. Another number has highlighted the practitioners of the spiritual Falun Dafa discipline in modern-day China, who stay true to their beliefs of compassion and tolerance in the face of persecution.
In fact, the entire production embodies the ideal of free expression in the face of persecution. The New York-based non-profit brings to the stage performances that cannot be viewed in Communist China, even today. When the “Cultural Revolution” occurred in China, the political powers attempted to destroy millennia of cultural history. Through its performances, Shen Yun ensures that traditional Chinese culture never disappears.