MISSISSAUGA, Canada—In a world where cultural traditions are often viewed as out-dated, irrelevant, or old-fashioned, one performing arts company is turning that notion on its head.
When Ryerson University professor Tim Sly attended Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Living Arts Centre on April 27, his impression was that the classical Chinese dance and music company is proving China’s 5,000-year-old culture holds timeless value for a modern world.
“It’s portrayed in a very refreshing, vigorous, wonderful, lively way, not in an old, traditional way but in a modern way,” Mr. Sly said.
“It’s a wonderful experience, everyone should come and see Shen Yun.”
Mr. Sly is Professor Emeritus with Ryerson’s School of Occupational and Public Health, where he served as program director for nine years. He also holds an associate faculty position with the School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson. He has been published in the U.K., across North America, and has worked around the world—from Brazil to Taiwan.
Noting that he enjoyed trying to “learn a little bit of the Chinese language,” Mr. Sly said traditional Chinese culture has a lot of wisdom to offer the world—not only with its early advancements in writing, medicine, and science, but also its deep spiritual culture and universal values.
Shen Yun was an excellent expression of this culture, he said. “The stories, the legends, the truth, the harmony of the universe written in this way—its wonderful to see.”
One lesson he said Shen Yun’s stories and songs offered modern audiences was the message that the narrow pursuit of wealth and status is never-ending and illusory, whereas appreciation of beauty, goodness, and inner harmony is a true path to happiness.
“It [conveys] a feeling of wanting to go back and appreciate the more beautiful things in life, rather than being caught up in just technology and advances like that,” he said.
“It’s very beautiful.”
New York-based Shen Yun has been working to revive China’s cultural traditions since 2006. The company was formed by a group of Chinese artists who recognized these cultural treasures were almost lost under decades of repression by the Chinese communist regime.
Shen Yun’s dancers and musicians embodied the values they promoted on stage–such as compassion, joy, beauty, and harmony, said Mr. Sly.
“The discipline needed by these artists to perform in such a precise way, the happiness, the life, the spirit in there is coming across very clearly,” he said.
“Very ancient, traditions are coming across as well. [The artists] work together in harmony, in unison—these are wonderful characteristics and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
‘Exemplifies China over the centuries’
Kanwal Kukreja, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at McMaster University, was also in the audience at the April 27 performance. For him, Shen Yun was both visually and psychologically impactful.
“It’s quite an amazing show, which exemplifies China over the centuries and decades, and we love to see that aspect of China,” he said. “It’s lovely.”
“It’s a beautiful treat,” added his wife, Tarvinder Kukreja, a physician specializing in the field of sleep medicine.
“We’re really happy to be here,” said their daughter Gazal. “The colours and the costumes, the dance, it’s beautiful, really visually appealing.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Justina Wheale
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company is currently touring Eastern Canada. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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.