The three days we spent at Merriam Theater marked my fourth time visiting Philadelphia. However, this season I had a completely different outlook on the city.
My first visit was for our Philadelphia shows in 2009. As a native Australian, I saw the metropolis as just another American city and the hometown of some fellow dancers. I remember trying the signature Philly cheesesteak for the first time and thinking it was okay.
My subsequent visits to Philly also left cuisine memories. Recalling the yum cha, hotpot, and exotic durian and jack-fruit smoothies we had there still makes my mouth water.
But being Australian born and bred, I didn’t know Philadelphia’s role in the making of this nation. So when the Liberty Bell was mentioned to me, I had no interest. It was not until I watched the movie National Treasure that I became interested in American history.
This year, as our bus rolled into Philly and drove down Arts Avenue, I had new-found appreciation for the City of Brotherly Love.
All four shows we had great audiences. For me, the most unforgettable moment was during the three curtain calls of our third show. Two ladies in the front row of the balcony were standing and couldn’t stop passionately cheering and waving. We were all very touched by their enthusiasm.
When reading audience reviews on The Epoch Times, to our surprise, we came across an interview with the two lively ladies talking about how our performance expressed the beauty of traditional Chinese culture.
The Philadelphia audience review article I found most memorable was one that quoted retired psychotherapist Caroline Glasbey. She talked about the performance’s theme of good triumphing over evil, saying, “I’ve believed that all my life.”
“Even as you travel down (Philadelphia’s) Chestnut St., there’s a big mural—a quotation from Lincoln, these two forces of basically good and evil are always fighting with each other,” Glasbey said. “The good always will prevail, it’s far more powerful. We always see it. Look at Gandhi—we always see that love is a force that is so illuminating and that evil and destruction and hatred become self-destructing.”
Our mission with Shen Yun's is to revive the lost traditional Chinese culture, but our message is universal. No matter what cultural or historical background our audience members have, I find that they relate to the meaning of our show.