NEWARK—As Shen Yun Performing Arts swept its way across dozens of U.S. cities on its 2019 world tour, a common refrain from the audience has been that the performance went beyond expectations.
Stephen Paneyko, retired banking executive, was one of those audience members.
“It really is remarkably wonderful, way beyond what I expected,” he said after watching the performance at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on May 1.
“The beauty, the talent, the colors, the scenery, makes me want to go to China.”
Shen Yun is the premier classical Chinese dance company, created with a mission to revive authentic Chinese culture, something that was destroyed by the communist regime over its almost seven decades in power. New York-based Shen Yun’s two-hour-long program includes classical Chinese dance vignettes, musical soloists, and stories told through dance.
Paneyko, a former executive of several banks in New York and New Jersey, said he appreciated the work of the two emcees who introduced each program, which allowed him to understand what was being presented on stage.
“[The performance] taught me a lot about [Chinese] culture and it was beautifully choreographed, beautifully told,” he said.
Paneyko also praised the skill of the performers.
“The talent of the dancers is just remarkable,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything like it before.”
Shen Yun’s dancers are world-class performers of classical Chinese dance. The dance style was developed over thousands of years to become one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world, comprised of a unique set of movements, expressions, and difficult tumbling techniques.
The retired banker was so dazzled by the performance that he wished it could be enjoyed by more people, including people in China.
“I wish the Chinese people themselves could see it. I hope you can somehow get the government to allow [it],” Paneyko said.
Shen Yun is not allowed to perform in China, one reason being its depiction the communist regime’s suppression of adherents of spiritual discipline Falun Gong. This ongoing, brutal persecution that has last almost two decades.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, consists of meditation exercises and a set of teaching centered around the principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.” It exploded in popularity in China during the 1990s with around 70 to 100 million people practicing the discipline by the end of the decade.
Threatened by its popularity, the communist regime banned the practice in 1999, resulting in hundreds and thousands of practitioners being detained for their faith. In prisons, labor camps, and brainwashing centers, many practitioners have been tortured and have even died from their injuries.
But though some parts of the program bring up the persecution, the production is ultimately one of hope.
Paneyko left the theater feeling a great sense of joy from the experience.
“I’m going to see it again because you can’t take it all in on one performance,” he said.
With reporting by NTD Television.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.