Audiences in South Dakota and Utah Moved by Sight of Pre-Communist China in Shen Yun

Aug. 14, 2021 | By Minghui correspondent Xue Li

One of Shen Yun’s seven touring companies, the Shen Yun Touring Company, performed in two U.S. states during the first week of August: Rapid City, South Dakota on August 3, and Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 6-8.

Utah state senator Jani Iwamoto said in a welcome letter to Shen Yun, “The cultural history of China is rich beyond measure and I am certain that your audience will be thrilled by the beauty and pageantry you bring to the stage.”


Utah State Senator Iani Iwanmoto


“How Beautiful Life Can Be”

Paul Skousen, a college professor and author, saw Shen Yun with his wife in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 7.

“It was really a wonderful experience… I feel lighter!” Mr. Skousen said.

“This was an absolutely delightful introduction to a culture of which I thought I knew something. Clearly, I did not,” he said. “I learned many new things about some wonderful people. I would like to get to know a lot more.”

He also said, “What touched my heart was the portrayal of sincere people trying to build good lives based on good principles, and to see the forces of darkness try to crush that light… That just seems to be a common theme all around the world, so I really enjoyed seeing that portrayed, how beautiful life can be, and how important it is [that] we preserve that, and stand up against the forces of darkness that are trying to destroy that,” he said.

He also felt touched by the lyrics in the songs performed by Shen Yun’s vocalists, who are trained in the bel canto song style. “As I read those, I thought, ‘Those are things I believe in, those are things that I take and hold dear to my heart!’” he said.

Mr. Skousen also said, “Clearly, there’s a depth and a richness in all of our friends on the other side of the world. I just didn’t really appreciate [it] until tonight.”

“I really appreciated the way they showed the horrible, oppressive power of communism over a beautiful people just trying to have joy and prosperity, like everyone else,” he said. “Clearly, [there is] not a place on this earth for that kind of a dark force, and the sooner the Chinese people can rise up and throw that off, the sooner the entire world will benefit from all they have to give that has been suppressed because of the Communist Party of China.”

“I clearly was left wanting more. I need to come back and watch it again… I’m so glad I came tonight. I would encourage all my friends and family, make this a time to come share with some wonderful people that we ought to be closer to, and know more about,” he said.


Paul Skousen, college professor and author, and his wife.


“Enlightening and Uplifting”

Michael Kourianos, the mayor of Price City, watched Shen Yun in Salt Lake City on August 6. This was his second time seeing Shen Yun, and his first time was in 2019.

“You feel the emotion, but also the feelings of the dancer, the story. It’s coming across beautifully!” Mayor Kourianos said. “It’s very enlightening and uplifting, but the story is close to your heart. The feelings that are being shared with us here in America [are] beautiful.”

He also spoke about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s persecution of Falun Gong, a peaceful group of spiritual believers. “It’s sad that they’re being persecuted to this day, so our hearts go out to them,” he said.

“[Shen Yun is] something that should be shared with everyone and enjoyed by everyone,” he said.


Mayor of Price City Michael Kourianos at the Shen Yun performance in Salt Lake City on August 6.


“Absolute Joy” and “Peace”

Lisa Fifield, a dancer, saw Shen Yun with her family at the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City on August 8, 2021. She danced with the Guangzhou Ballet in China early in her career, and was the first-ever American to dance under contract with a Chinese ballet company.

“I danced under the communist government and so there is such a different feeling as I watch the [Shen Yun] performers… There is a bright, happy peace that exudes from all the dancers, and as I watched that, I cried because I remember the level of fear and the difficult rigors of training that I went through with the dancers at Guangzhou ballet,” she said.

She elaborated on her time in China: “The ridicule, even hitting and abuse—literal abuse—that the dancers went through as I was contracting with them… It’s very refreshing for me to see these dancers just dance without fear, and also share a message of truth.”

“I also feel this overwhelming hope when I see them dance because I am particularly aware of what’s happening with the Chinese communist government… I’ve continued to learn Chinese because I want to be a messenger of truth of what is happening in China, and I pay attention to what is going on in our own country in America,” she said.

“I think too many Americans are so unaware of what is really going on here… and I just am really grateful that these dancers are able to still project the message from ancient China.

“China is actually a very beautiful, deep, rich cultural kingdom and I love to study that… I love to study the ancient art forms, the language, the history, and I think that if people would understand that part of China, they would see a part of China that is so different from what is depicted today.

“It’s actually really unfortunate that… [Chinese] people are under surveillance and they are not able to express themselves freely like we are in America… As long as we still have our freedom, we need to understand messages about Falun Dafa and the truth of what’s happening with harvesting of organs,” she said.

She also thought that it was “important that we as Americans wake up, that we are ready to stand up for the Chinese people as well as our own people.”

“What I feel is just absolute joy. I love it! I love the beauty, I love the language,” Ms. Fifield said.


Dancer Lisa Fifield and her family.


“Bringing the True Culture of China”

Jessica Castleberry, a member of the South Dakota Senate, saw Shen Yun with her mother and son in Rapid City on August 3.

“Superb performers… Everything was just so flawless and excellent,” Ms. Castleberry said.

“I am absolutely loving this performance,” she said, “and I especially appreciate the perspective of providing pre-communism China… We were so moved by the message that China is more than communism.”

She continued, “Something I feel that it is really important that more Americans realise is that it’s really easy to decide you want to be a communist when you live in a free country, but it’s impossible to decide that you want to be free when you live in a communist country.”

“We are absolutely, completely supportive of anything that we can do with Chinese people that is looking to inform and educate on what communism does.

“We were so happy to have the opportunity to come to the production, and appreciated the fantastic performance… I think that a performance like this is really going to open the eyes of a lot of Americans to the rich history and the rich culture.

“This production has done an excellent job of bringing the true culture of China to the United States,” she said.

Regarding building a better relationship with China, she said, “The key is just like the final performance here where we’re talking about compassion, where we have compassion for one another, where we’re willing to have open conversations.”


Jessica Castleberry with her mother and son in Rapid City on August 3.


Upcoming Performances

Shen Yun continues its 2021-2022 tour with upcoming performances in:

Richardson, Texas, September 4–5
Houston, Texas, September 18–26
Orlando, Florida, September 22–26
Seattle, Washington, September 29–October 3

For more information on tickets and dates, please visit


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