ROCHESTER, NY—The sincere efforts to preserve a lost culture through the medium of art brought language professor Mariko Tamate to tears as she took in Shen Yun Performing Arts at Rochester Auditorium Theatre on Sunday.
“All the discipline, the hard work that goes into it, and the philosophy—it’s really touching. I couldn’t stop crying,” said Ms. Tamate during the intermission.
Ms. Tamate is a senior lecturer who teaches Japanese language at the University of Rochester. She attended the Feb. 17 performance with the university’s technology liaison coach, Eric Likness.
She said Shen Yun’s mission to revive 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture and values was beautifully expressed through the story-based dances.
“I think they’re trying to show compassion, love, respect and those things through their art, and it really comes across nicely,” she said.
“[There’s a] sense of justice, freedom,” added Mr. Likness.
New York-based Shen Yun is a world-renowned classical Chinese dance company, formed by artists from around the world who seek to preserve China’s divinely inspired culture.
“All of the [dances] are equally good. … They’re all really awesome, and the songs are really touching too,” said Ms. Tamate.
According to the Shen Yun website, traditional Chinese culture is based on the three pillars of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. However, this heritage was largely destroyed during the past 60 years through various campaigns waged by the Chinese communist regime.
Ms. Tamate, who practices Buddhism herself, said Shen Yun reminds humanity of its own goodness and long-cherished values such as respect for others, tolerance, and cooperation.
“People want material things and are in pursuit of material things; lots of nice [traditional] philosophies are lost,” she said.
“All of the nice culture and the philosophy and the values are getting lost. I think [Shen Yun] is trying to revive all that.”
One of the most memorable moments for Ms. Tamate was a dance titled An Unexpected Encounter, which highlights the story of Falun Dafa, a spiritual discipline based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance that is violently persecuted in China.
She said the story was inspirational and symbolized the triumph of good over evil.
“They’re not trying to gain anything—their mind is pure, so pure mind should prevail,” Ms. Tamate said.
Reporting by Hannah Cai and Justina Wheale.
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun will be in Buffalo, NY on Apr 17 and Syracuse on May 12. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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