PHILADELPHIA—When Shen Yun Performing Arts performed on Wednesday evening May 9, the audience expressed delight, both through rousing applause and comments afterward.
“I have a true love of artistry, and the classical dance, and the incredible athleticism here tonight is just gorgeous,” said playwright Mary Hagy.
Shen Yun is dedicated to the revival of traditional Chinese culture which was all but destroyed after more than 60 years of Communist rule in China and the Cultural Revolution, Shen Yun’s website explains. “However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed,”it says.
Founded in 2006, Shen Yun has grown to three performance troupes and orchestras of comparable size. Today Shen Yun counts many winners of international dance and vocal competitions among its artists, and the orchestras include many musicians from world-renowned symphonies and conservatories.”
Michael Hagy who accompanied his wife to the performance at the Merriam Theatre, pointed to the many aspects from which to appreciate Shen Yun.
“The colors, the artistry, the athleticism, it’s just wonderful to watch,” he said.
Mr. Hagy’s broad expertise includes business team development, executive coaching and strategic planning. He speaks to organizations and businesses at such places as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and U.S Congress. He also teaches at both Temple University and Philadelphia University.
Shen Yun was something apart from everything he had experienced. “I think it’s once in a life-time,”he said, adding “You’ve got to go to it once,” he added. “You have to go to it.”
Shen Yun’s performance takes the audience both through time and space—across the vast land of China, and from the dawn of the civilization 5,000 years ago to the modern day.
Ms. Hagy found the stories a “doorway into Chinese heritage in a way that we’ve never seen before.”
In the modern day, communist rule in China limits freedom of speech and belief—particularly that of Falun Dafa practitioners, a practice “guided by the principles of ‘truthfulness compassion, and tolerance,” according to Shen Yun’s website. The practice “helped over a hundred million Chinese people understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture—Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist schools of thought,” adds the website.
“And yet, the Chinese Communist Party, whose regime and ideology are in stark contrast with the traditional culture of China, has targeted Falun Gong for persecution.” Falun Dafa practitioners holding firm to their faith, with a spirit of compassion and tolerance, “manifest the very essence of China’s 5,000-year-old divine culture,” the website explains.
The “common human element” of the modern day tales struck Ms. Hagy.
“Whenever there’s oppression, and there are people that are seeking to be free, there’s always a conflict,” she said. “And when there’s a conflict, there’s a story, and wherever there’s a story that’s resolved, there’s a communication between heritage and cultures—that one doesn’t need words, it can be told in dance.”
Reporting by Pamela Tsai and Zachary Stieber
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world, with a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. The season concludes this month with performances in Philadelphia, Honolulu, San Antonio, and Buffalo.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
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