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Today's Family Magazine

Shen Yun –– A Performance for the Senses

Nov 21, 2016 12:31PM ● By Today's Family
By Deanna Adams

If you’d like to experience something completely different during this long winter season, you’ll want to head to the Playhouse Square State Theater on February 4 and 5 for an elaborate performance that promises to be unlike any you’ve ever seen.

Formed in New York City in 2006, the Shen Yun Performing Arts is a classical Chinese dance and music company whose production has been touted as a global phenomenon that will “educate, enrich and inspire.”

Presented by the Ohio Falun Dafa Association (OFDA), a company whose mission is to revive the true culture of China they believe was once almost lost, draws from Chinese history and universal themes.

“In this production, we revive the traditional Chinese culture using dance and all movement to tell the story,” says Tianlun Jian, Ph.D, executive director of the OFDA.  “It is a classical Chinese dance that is over 2,000 years old.  More than 100 artists perform it, which includes a full live orchestra of 40 members.  They play classical music with western instruments that merge together, producing music that is so peaceful and harmonious.”

As explained in their website,, Shen Yun takes you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture and “aspires to create original, entertaining performances.”

So what is Shen Yun and what does it mean? The description is rather broad, so in short, Shen Yun means, “the beauty of divine beings dancing.”

And dancing they do.

Throughout the performance, the stage is filled with classically trained Chinese dancers—dressed in bright, colorful, handcrafted garments—who artfully sway across the stage to original music and choreography.

“The costumes represent different areas,” Jian says.  “This includes over 50 different ethnic groups. There is Tibetan dancing, Mongolian dancing, and others, so you see the different lifestyles, different costumes, different hometown scenery.  They call it a two-hour trip around China. It’s the most efficient, and economic, way to learn about China in the most pure authentic way.”  He adds that the approximate 400 costumes are handmade each year, and are completely different from the previous years.

Then there’s the background.

“The scenery provides an artistic backdrop that is very animated and abstract,” Jian says.  “So all the dancers tell a story together against a beautiful landscape.”

The tenor and soprano vocalists, and the emcees, need no microphones in this elegant play. 
“There are two emcees,” Jian notes. “One who speaks perfect Chinese, and another, perfect English, to introduce the acts.  They are professionally trained to project their voice and they give the audience a brief background so you can understand what is happening through each scene.”

Tianlun Jian, who now lives in Cleveland, and an economist by trade, travels a lot to promote his passion for this renowned theatrical production.  Each year, he treks to Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, Chicago and Buffalo.  He says he acquired his love for the production when he first saw the show in New York. This will be the seventh time it has been performed in Cleveland.

“Many people come from as far away as Beijing, Taiwan, and Korea to experience the show in America,” Jian says.  “Many have told me that this performance gives them hope for humanity, and how uplifting and beautiful it is.  It is truly a wonderful experience for both adults and the children.”

For more information, please visit  For tickets, visit

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