OTTAWA, Canada—Hendrik Bütter, a former forensic psychologist and professor at the University of Ottawa whose area of expertise was clinical neurophysiology, is now retired. But after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre on Friday night, he was so impressed that he said the show was something he would have recommended to his patients.
“I would show these shows to my patients … [to show them] to stand still for a moment and see what values really are important in life, especially for mental health and physical health,” he said.
“Just to show the music, the poetry, the philosophy, theology—like the virtue of hope, which is a theological virtue because we can’t see it, we can’t measure it, but it’s there. We believe it, that’s the most important. … I would tell my patients and other people around me that it’s worth two and a half hours to just get in touch with ourselves and our destiny.”
Shen Yun portrays principles from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, such as compassion, propriety, justice, filial piety, and respect for the divine—values that are the essence of traditional Chinese culture, according to its website.
“This show brings forth the values of tradition, artistic values. And the songs and the musical instruments that were shown were extremely beautiful. It touches our hearts. … We’re not measuring anything—it’s feeling and the destination of human nature,” Mr. Bütter said.
He added that the passion of the performers resonated with him.
“I felt that I was very close to them, because what they were relating to us was that life is short but it’s beautiful once you have a passion. … Everybody seems to be extremely interested in what they’re doing and they love what they’re doing, they’re passionate about what they’re doing, and that’s the difference.”
Shen Yun excels at taking stories and legends from China’s 5,000-year history and presenting them to audiences through music and dance—both ethnic and folk dances as well as classical Chinese dance, one of the richest and most extensive art forms in the world, the website says.
“It’s very beautiful, especially the stories,” said Mr. Bütter.
“And the two songs were very existential dealing with life and life hereafter, possibly, but also hope as a theological virtue which cannot be measured. We cannot measure this. In our society we always have to measure everything to believe it, but this was something that you have to feel, and I think the show really showed the feeling of [traditional Chinese] culture in a sense of depth and ontology.”
With its enormous animated digital backdrops, Shen Yun mixes the ancient with the modern—something that also impressed Mr. Bütter.
“The scenery was just fantastic, the technicalities of it all.”
He said he thinks the show could help combat materialism in young people.
“I think our children have to know a little more about where we come from because we now see our young students who seem to be more interested in the now and the immediate future and translating that into production, into money. I think our students would benefit from this in the sense that they’d see there’s an eternalness about our nature, our human nature,” he said.
He also believes Shen Yun could bring about change in the world by showcasing the values and excellence inherent in traditional Chinese culture.
“They have to keep on being determined with the spirituality that they’re showing out—the belief that the culture is a transmission of values from other generations that are still relevant today. I’ll give you an example. The window in a Cathedral was a stained glass window. It took 150 years, three generations of people, to produce that window, but it’s one of the most beautiful stained glass windows.
“This is what [Shen Yun] is doing here. They’re showing that, even though they’re 5,000 years old, the values are still the same for you, and me, and our children.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Joan Delaney
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.