Speech Writer Uplifted by Shen Yun

AUSTIN—John and Kara Thompson brought their son and daughter to see Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, Dec. 29, and found there was something in it for everyone.

Mr. Thompson, a communications expert, said this was his first encounter with traditional Chinese culture. Mr. Thompson, a principal at Critical Communications where he works as a corporate speech writer and strategy consultant, also teaches business as an adjunct professor. He was previously a director of communications at Dell.

“I feel good,” Mr. Thompson said with a laugh after the performance. “I liked it. It was different from what I had seen before. And quite colorful, and the music was wonderful.”

Mrs. Thompson was most taken by the visual spectacle that the New York-based Shen Yun creates with its use of brilliant costuming and artistry of staging.

“All the colorful costuming and the flow of the material, and just the visual impression that made—that’s what really impressed me,” Mrs. Thompson said.

Giana Thompson, a student, has studied a variety of dance styles and was intrigued seeing classical Chinese dance for the first time.

“It showed a lot of feeling, which is what I like most in dance,” Ms. Thompson said.

Classical Chinese dance is richly expressive because of the deep cultural traditions embedded in the art form. Having been tempered through thousands of years, classical Chinese dance has been refined through various dynasties into a vast and independent system of dance.

“It felt like they were yearning for something, like they were trying to show themselves to the world and make the plight of the Chinese more widely known,” Ms. Thompson said.

Nathan Thompson said he was most interested in the solo vocalists. Every Shen Yun performance includes solo vocalists who sing original Chinese compositions in the bel canto style. The unique—and difficult—technique surprised Mr. Thompson.

“It was very good,” he said.

Inner Spirit

Also in the audience was Renee Gross, a veterinarian, and Lucia McCoy, a retired schoolteacher. Ms. Gross frequents the theater often but only experienced classical Chinese dance for the first time through Shen Yun.

“Everything [was] completely unique,” Mr. Gross said. The combination of the music and colors left her feeling peaceful and relaxed, yet energetic, she said.

Ms. McCoy said she had a similar feeling. “The entirety of it was wonderful,” she said. “I enjoyed it immensely.”

Classical Chinese dance, which focuses on bearing, or “inner spirit,” had an impact on the friends.

“I marveled at how they [the dancers] carried themselves,” Ms. McCoy said.

Ms. McCoy couldn’t take her eyes off the dancers, and when the curtain opened on the finale, she felt the story came full circle.

“The history—they brought it from the classical to the modern,” Ms. McCoy said. “That really brought it back to the reality of where we are now, and I thought it described it really well, what’s going on.”

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