MONTREAL—Snow-covered streets showed winter held sway in Montreal on the afternoon of Jan. 5, but inside the renowned Place des Arts theatre, audiences experienced the warmth of Shen Yun Performing Arts.
After every performance during Shen Yun’s sold-out five-show run, the theatre resounded with applause. Some people wiped away tears, while others’ faces were bright with smiles.
Alan Simpson was in the audience Saturday afternoon. The former UK member of Parliament who is now working on climate change issues was in town visiting his in-laws. He and his wife were eager to see Shen Yun, which had been highly recommended by close friends.
After the show, Mr. Simpson was invited by New Tang Dynasty Television to share his impressions.
“The show is lovely,” he said. “I think that one of the things that the West doesn’t properly understand is just how rich and diverse Chinese culture and history are. The show is very good at capturing how wide and deep the culture is.”
Mr. Simpson was also impressed by the artistry and spirituality of the show.
“Artistically, it is beautiful. It is just completely filled with grace and as a planet we could do with all the grace we can find,” he said.
Established in 2006, Shen Yun has since been acclaimed as the world’s premier classical Chinese dance and music company. With a mission to reclaim and renew China’s divinely inspired cultural heritage, the New York based company has toured over 100 cities on five continents.
“Any company from any culture that is taking a message of peace, tolerance, reflection and spiritual grace is something to be welcomed,” said Mr. Simpson.
It is just completely filled with grace and as a planet we could do with all the grace we can find.
— Alan Simpson, former UK member of Parliament
However, while Shen Yun has toured around the world, it cannot be seen in today’s communist China, which has systematically repressed China’s traditional heritage, particularly the rich spiritual traditions that are at the heart of the culture.
In addition, Shen Yun’s artistic representation of the persecution of adherents of the Falun Gong’s spiritual practice are experiencing in China has irked the Chinese regime, which has systematically tried to interfere with the show’s performances abroad.
During his career, Mr. Simpson worked to help several Falun Gong practitioners whose families were imprisoned or detained in China.
His experience was “what Falun Gong practitioners are doing is essentially spiritual, peaceful, artistic, and creative.”
In fact, Falun Gong’s principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance are rooted in traditional Chinese culture, and many Chinese people have reconnected with this heritage after embracing the practice.
Mr. Simpson said his message to the Chinese regime has always been, “Look, it’s a big mistake to take something that is spiritual and try to redefine it as though it is political or military. It isn’t peace that is a threat to the planet today, it’s the absence of peace.’”
He also told them, “Embrace something that connects people to their own past—it will be an asset and not a threat.”
Mr. Simpson believes the values of peace, tolerance, and togetherness expressed in Shen Yun are necessary for people to embrace as they move forward.
“It’s going to depend on us understanding how interdependent we are on each other and how tolerance and inclusion will be the hallmark of any society that hopes to survive,” he said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Madalina Hubert.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s New York Company will play five shows in Montreal Jan. 3-6 and one show in Quebec City Jan. 8 before going on to Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton, and Toronto in its tour of eastern Canada. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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