Audiences in Kansas City, Missouri Marvel at Shen Yun’s Flawless Presentation of Chinese Culture (Photos)

( Amidst thunderous applause, the New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts gave two awe-inspiring, sold-out performances at the recently inaugurated Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (Muriel Kauffman Theatre) in Kansas City, Missouri, on January 22-23, 2013. Being the most centrally located major metropolitan area in the United States, Kansas City is also home to over 200 eye-catching water fountains, more than any other city in the world, except Rome, Italy.

“It Was Wonderful To Have Them Come Here,’ Raves Consultant

Kauffman Center Performing Arts, downtown Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo courtesy of The Epoch Times)

Seated in the audience was Steffany Hedenkamp, editor, writer, and communications consultant.

She said it was “wonderful” to have Shen Yun showcase their skills at the recently inaugurated Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

“This is a new performing arts center for us, so we’re thrilled that it could be a home for these kinds of performances.”

For nearly 15 years, Ms. Hedenkamp has operated her communications company, Red Quill Communications, and advises individuals, companies, non-profits and government on their public relations strategies.

She described Shen Yun’s portrayal of traditional Chinese culture as rich and profound.

“It made me feel honored to see and participate in such a lovely culture—so historic and meaningful,” she explained.

Ms. Hedenkamp thought the hundreds of artists and musicians that work to present new shows around the world each year was a magnificent arts feat, adding that Shen Yun is a great representation of China’s multifaceted regions and dynasties.

“I can’t imagine how they could create a whole new show every year!” she exclaimed.

“I can imagine they have a lot of material to draw from. I was very impressed by the choreography, the various aspects of the entire country they’ve tried to pull through in each of the dances.”

She and her mother also enjoyed Shen Yun’s colorful, handmade costumes, saying the silk fabric costumes were gorgeous.

“My mother and I were talking about the elaborate nature of the costumes. She’s a seamstress.” She added, “Nothing could be so flowing and wonderful as silk.”

When Ms. Hedenkamp found out that Shen Yun cannot be seen in China today, because traditional culture and art forms are suppressed there, she said, “I was surprised to hear that this kind of thing is not able to be seen in China. I didn’t realize that there were those kinds of limitations on the arts.”

Ms. Hedenkamp said that she was deeply moved by the spiritual core of traditional Chinese culture displayed in some of Shen Yun’s dance dramas.

“I was struck by the historic, deep vein of spirituality that clearly has been with the Chinese for so long,” she said.

“You don’t hear about that today in the media. You don’t hear about the Chinese having spiritual beliefs at all, but, obviously, it is true.”

Ms. Hedenkamp said Shen Yun was also an excellent educational tool for children, having had four children herself.

“It is wonderful to expose [children] to something that—here especially in the heartland—we’re isolated from things that you see in New York. It was wonderful to have them come here,” she said.

Shen Yun Performers “Really Are Spectacular”

Also attending the show was Gene Wuellen and his wife, architect-turned-educator, Cindy Frewen-Wuellen, who both said that they will encourage their friends to see Shen Yun.

“Oh, it’s been beautiful; they’re spectacular. They really are spectacular!” Ms. Frewen-Wuellen said.

“In that first scene when they had the smoke coming out? Oh, my gosh, that was spectacular. That was really wonderful,” Mr. Wuellen said.

Ms. Frewen-Wuellen said that she was moved by the cultural scope of the program.

“It’s impressive to see it portrayed. We’ve seen some of it before, and so its one of the strengths of China, right? Having that really ancient culture and keeping it continuously. So, it has been very impressive.”

The Wuellens enjoyed the aerial and tumbling techniques in the show, saying the Shen Yun dancers were “beautiful,” “amazing,” and “definitely athletic.”

They were also taken with the beautiful colors of the handmade costumes that spanned many dynasties and ethnicities. Ms. Frewen-Wuellen described them as “just spectacular.”

Mr. Wuellen agreed, “But the colors! The colors were so fantastic.”

When asked if they would recommend the show to their friends, Mr. Wuellen replied, “They need to see it.”

“They have to see it! You really can’t describe it,” Ms. Frewen-Wuellen added.

“You’ve got to be here to see this. The production was fantastic,” Mr. Wuellen concluded.

Shen Yun’s Cultural Revival Appreciated

Also among the enthusiastic crowd at Kansas City’s Muriel Kauffman Theatre, was Brian Sullivan, who was accompanied by his wife, Chrys, who owns Useagility, a full-service user experience consulting firm. The couple had previously seen Shen Yun in 2008.

Mr. Sullivan, a vice president of a financial company, said that he would describe the performance as “a vision of Chinese folk culture and art.”

Included in the show were several story-based dances that tell of modern China, including the persecution of the meditation practice Falun Gong in China. The persecution is part of the Chinese regime’s destruction of Chinese culture, which spurred Shen Yun’s creation.

Mrs. Sullivan appreciated the effort that Shen Yun took to tell this story and to represent ancient Chinese culture.

“I’m glad to see that there is a group worldwide that is really promoting the historical culture and into the historical religion of China,” she said.

Mr. Sullivan said that he enjoyed the fact that Shen Yun presents some ethnic and folk dances from the 55 ethnic minority groups in China.

“The various regions of China that are represented—I like that part of it too,” he said.

The Tibetan dance set’s colors and movements especially caught Mr. Sullivan’s eye whereas Mrs. Sullivan particularly appreciated the gestures and balancing in the Mongolian Bowl Dance.

The couple thought that the show had a good mix of dances, and lots to see, so it was a treat for their whole family.

“Our kids don’t see too many performances, and they weren’t sure they were going to like it today—we all really did, though,” Mr. Sullivan said.

Writer and Actor: “Get in Here Before They Leave Town!”

Thomas Barnes and his son attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Kauffman Center. (Photo courtesy of The Epoch Times)

Writer and actor, Thomas Barnes, said that he feels touched by traditional Chinese culture and the numerous ethnic and folk dances in Shen Yun.

“The variety of the cultures that were brought together is … fantastic,” said Mr. Barnes, who was accompanied by his son, a student.

Mr. Barnes spoke about his understanding of the divinely inspired Chinese culture represented by Shen Yun,

“There’s always a divine being—Buddhism, Daoism, there’s always a central figure or divinity, really, in just about every culture in every time period,” he said. “Even if it’s a Norse myth and we’re talking about Thor, it’s the same.”

Noting that spirituality and peace aren’t as embraced by the West nowadays, Mr. Barnes said, “I’m glad to see we’re getting some of that culture. We’re being reminded of it.”

He said that Shen Yun was bringing back “these sort of [spiritual] programs,” adding, “And that’s [exactly] what we need to embrace in the world. Its good to see—we need it. And they look beautiful, too,” he said.

Mr. Barnes also enjoyed the set designs and the digital backdrops, saying they were “fantastic.”

The traditional Chinese stories portrayed in Shen Yun, such as The Mongolian Bowl Dance, were thoroughly enjoyed by both Mr. Barnes and his son.

Mr. Barnes said that he didn’t know that there were so many ethnicities associated with traditional Chinese culture, adding that he was fascinated by the stories in the show.

“I didn’t know that so many diverse cultures were all that much in the same region of China. You hear of Tibet, and Mongolia, and you kind of separate them in your own head but its really part of the same region,” he said.

As an actor, Mr. Barnes said that he was really able to appreciate the hard work and diligence that went into the performance.

“Its amazingly difficult to put together as much as they’re doing at one time and do it with a smile on their face,” he said.

His son added that live performances are difficult, and his father said he was right because you don’t get a second take. “I’ve got to commend them,” he said.

“They look wonderful, they look beautiful, and they seem to be enjoying themselves and that’s the main thing. They’re having fun. So they’re having as much fun as we are and that makes the show 10 times better,” Mr. Barnes exclaimed.

When asked how he would rate the show, Mr. Barnes said that he would like to tell everyone “to get in here before [Shen Yun] leaves town, because they are fantastic,” adding that Shen Yun shouldn’t be missed.

He said that Shen Yun had something for everyone; all ages, and for children, and for anyone that enjoys humor or who knows Chinese culture, or who does not know the culture.

“It’s astounding and it’s entertaining!” he concluded.


CATEGORY: Shen Yun Performing Arts


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