ATLANTA—Therapist and former ballet dancer Alisa Abdullaeva had wanted to see Shen Yun Performing Arts for many years. After finally seeing the performance in Atlanta, the former dancer was awe-struck.
“I’m speechless,” she said. “Honestly I’m speechless because it’s truly incredible.”
“The technique level, I would give it 100 percent.”
Abdullaeva attended the performance at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on April 13, with her mother-in-law and grandmother.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is in the midst of its 2019 world tour in which six companies will travel to more than 130 cities across four continents to celebrate traditional Chinese culture through music and dance. The New York-based company’s two-hour long program consists of a variety of segments including classical Chinese dance vignettes, vocal soloists, and stories from China’s 5,000-year history told through dance.
Abdullaeva, who used to be a ballet dancer Russia, is familiar with classical Chinese dance and certain folk dance styles, having studied such dance forms during her training.
Her assessment of Shen Yun dancers’ skill level was that it was up there with Russia’s most prestigious and internationally renowned ballet company, the Bolshoi Ballet.
“[The level] is at the Moscow Bolshoi level—maybe even better,” Abdullaeva said. “Because I’m sure Bolshoi would not be able to dance Chinese dance the way you guys did, it’s truly unbelievable.”
Classical Chinese dance was developed over thousands of years, and has a complete systems of movements and expressions, including difficult flips and tumbling techniques. It sits alongside ballet as one of the most comprehensive dance forms in the world.
But it wasn’t just the dancers’ technical expertise that astounded Abdullaeva; the stories that depicted modern-day suppression of faith in China reached into the depths of her consciousness.
Abdullaeva said she was moved to the point of tears by the story of a young woman who is thrown into prison for her belief in spiritual practice Falun Dafa.
“They’re touching, moving, and it really made me cry because of the music and the dancing and the story behind it—especially about the girl who was meditating but the communist regime didn’t let her so she was sent to prison,” Abdullaeva said.
Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice centered around the principles Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, was banned by the Chinese communist regime in 1999 after the discipline surged in popularity in the 1990s resulting in tens of millions of people practicing. The regime then launched a sweeping crackdown, leading to waves of practitioners being sent to prisons, labor camps, and brainwashing centers, where many experience torture and even die from such treatment.
Abdullaeva was also amazed by the soprano’s solo performance, and in particular struck by the spiritual themes in the song’s lyrics.
“I was amazed how I didn’t know about the Chinese culture … that you guys are so spiritual,” she said.
“I know in China, the religion is suppressed. And so seeing that song and the translation, it blew my mind away, it’s really unbelievable that you guys have such a strong spiritual background.”
The therapist was so taken by the experience that she said next year she’s going to bring even more family members, including her husband and her son who couldn’t make it this year.
“Next year I’m bringing everyone,” she said.
With reporting by NTD Television.