Flautist: Shen Yun Shows Freedom, Beauty

AUSTIN, Texas—Flautist Karen Kettlewell and her young daughter came to see Shen Yun Performing Arts with a deep appreciation for the arts, and with an understanding of China’s traditional culture.

“As for the ancient history and the beliefs of the people, this was a wonderful presentation, and it was a presentation visually,” Mrs. Kettlewell said at Austin’s Long Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 29.

Mrs. Kettlewell has played the flute professionally for 38 years, including with the Galveston Symphony Orchestra and the Houston Symphony. Currently, Mrs. Kettlewell is the principal flute player in the volunteer Williamson County City Orchestra, which performs around the city.

As a musician, Mrs. Kettlewell noticed the unique instrumentation in the Shen Yun Orchestra, which blends traditional Chinese instruments into a full Western symphony.

“Absolutely beautiful, beautiful music,” Mrs. Kettlewell said.

Mrs. Kettlewell felt that Shen Yun would be inspirational as well as educational for her daughter, who is currently studying dance, both artistically and culturally.

Mrs. Kettlewell trained classically in ballet from a young age but did not pursue if further. But having such insight, Mrs. Kettlewell held a special kind of appreciation for Shen Yun’s performers.

“They were just gliding, and that’s not easy,” Mrs. Kettlewell said of the dancers.

“They were just perfect. They were just so beautiful together,” she added. “It was just this beautiful, fluid movement and they all worked together as one.”

Mrs. Kettlewell paid attention to every motion and detail, and she noticed the intricate movements the dancers performed were unique to classical Chinese dance.

“You have that beautiful, magical dancing, and the dancing with the beautiful scarves and the drums, and the acting out of all the beautiful tales that were to be told,” Mrs. Kettlewell said.

Classical Chinese dance, as Shen Yun’s website explains, includes hundreds of unique postures and movements. The form, which has been refined through the centuries, allows its dancers to be richly expressive.

Mrs. Kettlewell said she came to the performance with some understanding of China, and already knew that the traditional values displayed by Shen Yun are not allowed in China today under the current regime.

“That’s something to be so admired,” she said of Shen Yun’s mission. “I think the inspiration for all of it is that there are people who don’t have the freedom to express themselves, and we need to pay attention to that and be grateful for it.”

Though the performance was mother and daughter’s first encounter with Shen Yun, Mrs. Kettlewell said it would not be their last.

“We’re going to make sure we tell everyone in [her daughter’s dance studio], and when it comes back next year, we’re going to make sure we come back with friends,” Mrs. Kettlewell said.

Reporting by Lucas Lee and Catherine Yang

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.

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