A Dancer Cannot Hide
During my two-week break after tour last summer, I went back home to Melbourne, Australia. I decided to see the ballet performance Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Arts Centre. This prestigious venue is known for hosting world-class ballet performances. I also thought, as a performer of classical Chinese dance, it would be insightful to appreciate another dance style.
As I approached the spire-topped performing arts center and then strolled into the lobby, a delightful feeling of being at ease came over me. After a busy tour of always being with my troupe every day for half a year—and I did enjoy everyone’s company—it was so nice to finally enjoy some alone time.
The grand atmosphere and classical vibes of the theater instantly won my approval. In my four years of performing in theaters around the world, I had yet to admire a theater as perfect as this.
As I passed rows of red velvety seats, I had the funny feeling of being watched. Indeed, I couldn’t help but notice all these senior men and women fixing their gaze on me. Was something stuck in my hair? Did I forget to remove the tag off my new Zara jacket? Feeling awkward, I tried to maintain some poise and quickly took a seat.
Suddenly, an unexpected showering of tiny flowers rained down from the ceiling, enchanting the audience, preparing us for Wonderland. The floral surprise had everyone animatedly chattering. It was then that my fellow patrons seated beside struck up a conversation with me, praising the pre-show entertainment, and telling me how great the Australian Ballet was.
I assumed they told me this because they thought I was a Chinese tourist, but I was soon proven wrong. They started complimenting me on my physique, and even thanked me for being a part of the Australian Ballet. They told me with certitude that they knew dancers from the company regularly watched their own performances. I couldn’t help but chuckle—finally I understood why people kept looking at me. Just as I was about to tell them I wasn’t part of the ballet company, the lights turned off and the show began.
During intermission, I mingled with the other theatergoers and clarified that I wasn’t part of the production. This led to an interesting in-depth conversation about the similarities and differences between ballet and classical Chinese dance. As I delved into why I dance, I broached the subject of the persecution of Falun Dafa in China, and how corrupt the Chinese Communist Party is.
I was a bit hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure how they would react, but they were eager to learn more, even though they had already heard about the persecution. I talked about the purpose of Shen Yun, and its mission to revive authentic Chinese culture.
After a great show, I became engaged in more conversation. An elderly lady with bright blue eyes asked me if Shen Yun would ever perform at the Arts Centre. We actually had a weeklong run there in 2016. And, luckily, I had already heard that we’ll be back for 12 shows this upcoming season, in March 2020!
The elderly woman looked at me intently and said, “No matter what, even if our finances aren’t so sound, we’ll definitely come to see Shen Yun.”
Somehow, this experience really touched me and I remember it very vividly. It reminds me of my mission here with Shen Yun—to revive an ancient culture and inspire people. It reminds me to become someone who performs purely for others, for a greater cause.