WATERBURY, Conn.—Ian Skoggard, a researcher at Yale University, said he found Shen Yun Performing Arts a fascinating performance.
“I’m enjoying all of it, especially the Monkey King dance,” Mr. Skoggard, who has studied China, said at intermission.
In the dance piece about the Monkey King’s battle with a man-eating ogre that shapeshifts into a fish, there is much interaction between the dancers and the digital backdrop, a hallmark of Shen Yun performances.
“It’s been very entertaining,” said Mr. Skoggard. “I like the tableau they do at the end of each dance.”
Based in New York, Shen Yun was formed to revive the divinely inspired, 5,000 year old Chinese culture, thought to be passed down from the heavens and interwoven with a range of virtues such as benevolence, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as respect for the heavens and the divine, according to the company’s website.
“China has been known as the Celestial Empire since ancient times, referring in part to the belief that the divine, through various dynasties, transmitted a rich and abundant culture to the Chinese people,” the website states.
“Chinese culture is thus known as ‘divinely inspired,’ and is the only culture in the world to have a continuous recorded history of 5,000 years,” it continues. “It has left behind countless literary classics, historical documents, cultural relics, and national records reflecting its immense scope.”
Yet because Shen Yun is reviving this ancient culture it cannot perform in China, because the ruling communist regime is responsible for nearly decimating the culture.
Mr. Skoggard said the change in China even since he first went there in 1978 and his last visit, about five years ago, has been “enormous.”
Seeing Shen Yun made him realize that the present rulers in China will pass, just as previous dynasties and rules have.
“And your beliefs and faith will prevail, will last forever,” he said.
A couple of dances in Shen Yun depict the persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice guided by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, that despite helping over 100 million Chinese return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture, is in stark contrast with the regime. The Chinese Communist Party has persecuted the practice for almost 14 years, yet “Falun Gong practitioners have held firm to their beliefs and have continued to expose countless injustices through peaceful means,” according to Shen Yun’s website.
“Their spirit of compassion and tolerance manifest the very essence of China’s 5,000-year-old divine culture,” it adds.
Mr. Skoggard said he has always been a friend to China, but watching Shen Yun he realized “there is a lot of oppression that does go on,” and how the Communist Party cannot tolerate other forms of belief.
Reporting by Aric Chen and Zachary Stieber.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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