The Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company staged four flawless shows at the ASB Theatre, 'The Edge,' in Auckland, New Zealand on April 30th - May 2nd, 2010.
Ms. O'Connor, who is a ballet and jazz dancer, as well as a dance teacher, said she thought the show was, "wonderful." "It was really amazing, and I really liked the spiritual message it had behind it, it was very touching," she said.
She continued, "The costuming and the colour! It was a beautiful way to produce a peaceful message: 'Allow us freedom of speech, and the freedom to believe in what we want to believe.' I thought it was beautiful."
"They portrayed it very well on stage, made it very plain and very clear as well."
Ms. O'Connor was referring to two dance sets that depicted the harsh persecution that practitioners of Falun Gong - a spiritual meditation practice - have been enduring for over ten years, now.
"I am a choreographer and dance teacher myself so I found it beautifully done and I was able to understand it; and I liked the underlying message. Yes it was beautiful," she said.
While talking about the digital backdrops, Ms. O'Connor described them as "stunning" and "amazing."
She described the choreography as "very beautiful" and the "colour and the patterning, and the lines, the classical lines," as "really amazing."
With a background in dance, Ms. O'Connor was able to truly appreciate the difficulty involved in performing classical Chinese dance.
"They did a great job! They made it look very, very easy - but no it's not easy - it's very difficult to do."
She also added, "I liked the message behind the dance, of being able to believe in something, and to be able to have your own belief, to be able to express your teachings and your belief freely in the world.
"I thought it was a beautiful way to use colour and dance and music to bring out the fact that we should have the freedom to believe or experience, and live the way we want to live, without harming anyone else. I thought it was great."
Maori Elder Impressed By Shen Yun
Also in the audience was Maori Elder Amato Akarana-Rewi, who said he was looking forward to seeing this year's show after thoroughly enjoying it last year.
"The first show I came here to see was excellent--this one here has really blown me away! You know all of it, even the last part there. ... I'm very much supportive of the Falun Gong."
Mr. Akarana-Rewi was making reference to the dance set Astounding Conviction, which portrays the persecution of Falun Gong in contemporary China.
He ended by saying, "I'm very passionate. I'm more passionate than I was ... this show here has really put the cream on the cake. It's really passionate ... I'm just blown away."
Animator, on Shen Yun Backdrops: "I have never seen anything like that before"
Sharon Richardson, an animator who does 2-D and 3-D animations, attended the show with her husband, Peter Richardson, a manager.
"I like the use of the background screen ... it has been very nicely done. I have never seen anything like that before. I like the way they incorporated it. I have never seen it being used in such an interactive way. I thought that was very creative," said Mrs. Richardson.
Mr. Richardson added, "The whole portrayal is excellent, it's professional, it's good. It's got a message to it. There's purpose, and it is not slap-dash. It is definitely good quality entertainment."
He said that two of the themes of the show that came through for him was "Freedom, freedom of belief," and "freedom for people of China, freedom of expression."
When asked if he would recommend the show to others, he exclaimed, "Brilliant! Something that everyone should see!"
Former actress and musician: "A wonderful spirit of unity"
Tony Ross, a retired priest with his wife Elisabeth Raphael
Also attending the show was Elisabeth Raphael, a former actress and musician, and Tony Ross, a retired priest.
Ms. Raphael thought that the show exuded "a wonderful spirit of unity," and as an ex-actress and musician, she said she "deeply appreciated the creativity as well as the very true stories."
She said that she was well aware of the long hours of dedication and training that went into each performance.
"We were very moved by the reality of it, and of course the wonderful discipline and the hard work. I know only too well what goes on behind the scenes, and yet it was all presented almost as though it was so easy."
Mr. Ross talked next about the spiritual message behind the show. "As a priest I found it absolutely inspiring, the whole message of love and hope and reaching out to the world. You know, I couldn't be more in favour of it, it's just beautiful," he said.
Ms. Raphael agreed, describing the show's message as "unity in diversity."
She said that she would like politicians to see Shen Yun and "have their heart-centres touched, realising that all people really want to reach out and share," adding, "We don't have to agree with everything, but we need to share and exchange."
She concluded by saying that Shen Yun "seems to spread the word, and unify and share, and it's lovely to share our different ways." Mr. Ross wholeheartedly agreed.
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