Environmental Scientist: Shen Yun Helps Us ‘Make a More Beautiful World’
NORFOLK, Va.—The United States as a melting pot is still an apt moniker if you ask environmental scientist Valerie Cover. Cover attended Shen Yun Performing Arts in Norfolk, Virginia, and saw parallels between “the varied cultures that come together” in America and also in the traditional China that she saw in New York-based Shen Yun.
“I thought it was amazing to be pulled into the culture,” said Cover, who works for the Environmental Protection Agency.
“[I] felt like the show [Shen Yun] is beautifully done and the way that even sensitive topics were handled was really beautifully done. But the bravery of telling the whole story is very appreciated,” she said, then directing her gratitude toward the artists themselves: “So, thank you so much for a beautiful experience.”
The culture, the topics, the bravery: What Cover is referring to is no less than Shen Yun’s mission as well as the narratives it depicts in the storytelling dances. Its mission is to revive China’s 5,000 years of civilization. In doing this, Shen Yun incorporates scenes from modern-day China that tell the true story of the ongoing persecution of people who wish to exercise authentic Chinese culture by following a spiritual practice.
Traditional Chinese culture has always been profoundly spiritual. For example, Shen Yun depicts the legend of the Creator returning to earth for all mankind.
“I really love the fact that they brought in the meditation and even the visions that were portrayed, which is very hard to do on a stage, I think, and even the miracles, and the hope that was brought in by the spiritual aspect of the story,” Cover said.
“I just really appreciate the full story that is being told here. And the long history that thousands of years that have built up from this very large country of many, many different cultures, is really represented beautifully, and I really appreciate that,” she added.
In addition to storytelling dances, Shen Yun also presents folk and ethnic dances, bel canto vocal performers, and instrumental soloists. The ethic and folk dances have drawn from China’s numerous regions and ethnicities.
“I love the costumes. Of course, I have binoculars, so I can really see all of the detail, which is incredible. And the skill of the dancers is the strength. And the vibrancy that they bring to this stage is just really a treat,” Cover said.
According to Shen Yun’s website, “Chinese dance is at the heart of what Shen Yun does. Known for its incredible flips and spins, and its gentle elegance, it is one of the most rigorous and expressive art forms in the world. … Built on traditional aesthetics, it was once passed down among the people, in imperial courts, and through ancient plays. … China’s deep cultural traditions are contained in classical Chinese dance, allowing its movements to be richly expressive, such that the personalities and feelings of characters can be portrayed with unparalleled clarity.”
Cover said she’ll be bringing home something very special from Shen Yun: “Cultural enhancement and the understanding that we’re all one big culture, one big melting pot, and we’re in this together to navigate making a more beautiful world. So it’s that union, and that recognition that we are all different cultures, but part of one world and that’s really the message that I’ve gotten from this.”
“I think the messages [in Shen Yun] are universal and they appeal to all of us,” she said.
With reporting by NTD Television and Brett Featherstone.
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