I’ve been watching Shen Yun since I was 4 years old. Since then, my family and I have made it a tradition to see the show every year. I can still remember the excitement I had as the show grew closer. It was and still is one of my favorite traditions.
Watching the show has brought me closer to my culture and China’s history. After all, I’m a child of an immigrant, but I never fully learned to speak Chinese or any other language than English. I can’t converse with my grandmothers without someone translating, and I’m not able to read old history texts that depict China in the olden times.
Being able to watch “5,000 Years of Civilization Reborn” unfold in front of my eyes has allowed me to realize that China is bigger than what we learn in school. Each dynasty is more than just the countless wars that ravaged the country. They had a history and a culture worth more than the little tidbits of information that I gleaned just to pass a history test.
I can still remember watching as a child in awe as the curtains slowly rose and the dancers appeared on stage with glittering clothes and swirling sleeves, smoke billowing out and fading into the orchestra pit. The music would swell, and I would watch with bated breath to see what happened next.
After the show, my sister and I would dance around our living room trying to imitate their dancing. We wanted to grow up and be a part of Shen Yun. It was a simple dream that ignored all the technicalities and hard work that had to be put in by all who are a part of Shen Yun, from the dancers to the sound technicians. As a teenager now, I can fully appreciate the skill behind every dance and song.
Every winter, I’m reminded that Shen Yun is coming to town. On the highways, I’ll see billboards, or as I walk into stores, there will be posters advertising the show. My sister will excitedly point them out, and the waiting game will start again. It starts months before the show, and in a blink of an eye, it’s the day of the show.
I walk into the theater, passing by elegantly dressed older couples and little girls in poofy dresses. Excitement and curiosity fill the air along with loud whispering. As the orchestra tunes and the lights dim, the noise quiets down. The curtain rises and as the show starts, I’m once again sucked back into history.
Shen Yun is not just a show; it is an experience that leaves me feeling uplifted and full of energy. Being able to see the clothing styles and folktales native to ancient China has allowed me to gain a small piece of insight into a time I could never fully imagine. The show also reminds me of the goodness in the world.