SYRACUSE, N.Y.–The rich, ancient Chinese culture was nearly lost to mankind after decades of communist rule.
Shen Yun Performing Arts formed to revive this ancient and divinely-inspired culture, touring top venues around the world, presenting the culture through ethnic and folk dances as well as myths and legends from China’s vast cultural lexicon.
On May 12 at the The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater, the audience could see the history through classical Chinese dance, an accompanying orchestra that features both classical Western and Chinese instruments, digital backdrops, and hand-tailored costumes.
Dr. Susan Scharoun, a psychology professor at Le Moyne College, was among the audience, with her 17-year-old adopted daughter Elisabeth, who arrived in the United States from China when she was less than a year old.
“I think it’s wonderful just how ‘classic’ it is,” said Dr. Scharoun of Shen Yun. “I’m really starting to understand a lot of the history of China through the dance.”
The culture was over the years impacted by the three religions of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.
“Under the influence of these faiths, Chinese culture has spawned a rich and profound system of values,” explains Shen Yun’s website. “The concepts of ‘man and nature must be in balance,’ ‘respect the heavens to know one’s destiny,’ and the five cardinal virtues of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faithfulness (ren yi li zhi xin) are all products of these three religions’ teachings.”
Dr. Scharoun said she was finding the relationship between the spirituality and the culture very fascinating.
Her daughter Elisabeth also enjoyed the cultural presentation. “I feel I can understand more of China and relate to it more,” she said. “I really loved it.”
While Shen Yun transports the audience across time—to different dynasties and eras—and space—across the country, showing different ethnicities—several dances portray the situation in modern China, including the persecution of Falun Dafa, a meditation practice based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.
The practice “has helped over a hundred million Chinese people understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture—Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist schools of thought,” according to Shen Yun’s website. Yet the Chinese Communist Party has been violently trying to eradicate the group since 1999; and yet, the practitioners have held firm to their beliefs and peacefully exposed countless injustices done against them.
“Their spirit of compassion and tolerance manifest the very essence of China’s 5,000-year-old divine culture,” explains Shen Yun’s website.
Dr. Susan Hynds, professor emeritus at Syracuse University’s School of Education, who accompanied Dr. Scharoun and her daughter to the performance, was struck by one of the dance pieces, in which a man and his daughter who are visiting China undergo an ordeal after being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As they decide take a stance against the injustice they witness, they also face being persecuted.
“I thought that was very interesting, and quite brave of this performance, to be talking about those issues,” said Dr. Hynds.
Dr. Scharoun also appreciated the colors in the performance: “The different colors are not typically seen together here, and they’re just gorgeous.”
Dr. Hynds loved the traditional instruments in the orchestra and the digital backdrops. “It’s just wonderful, in every way,” she said.
“It’s spectacular,” said Dr. Scharoun. She said she hopes Shen Yun returns to Syracuse.
Reporting by Gary Du 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
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.