BALTIMORE—As two former executives of AOL left the Lyric Theater after seeing Shen Yun Performing Arts on Sunday, Jan. 19, they had the same question: “Why can’t this be shown in China?”
“We both came out, and the first thing we said to each other was, ‘What about this is offensive to the Chinese?’” said Sheila Clark, retired lawyer for AOL. “Because it was beautiful, there was nothing risqué about it, it was sweet, it was innocent, the costumes were beautiful, the dancers work hard, and they are talented.”
Her friend Jan Brandt, semi-retired vice-chairman of AOL, wondered the same thing, adding, “There was a lot of spirituality, and it’s not what the Communists are interested in. So that part was very eye-opening.”
The program book states briefly that in the past, the Chinese looked upon their culture as being brought from the heavens, when China was known as the Divine Land. Under decades of atheist communist rule, however, the glorious Chinese culture, continuous for 5,000 years, has been almost completely destroyed.
Both Ms. Clark and Ms. Brandt have vivid memories of the Tiananmen Square Massacre 23 years ago.
“I was in Beijing and Shanghai during the Tiananmen Square Crisis in 1989,” said Clark. “So it brought back quite a feeling of how very powerful the government in China is.”
Brandt remembers, too. “I have a very strong recollection of what took place not that long ago at Tiananmen Square, as we watched it here on TV and all of the news media,” she said. “I’ve have had some work with companies in China, and I understand how difficult it is there.”
Brandt found it to be curious because the show “was enchanted, it was really beautiful.”
Clark agreed: “The show itself was beautiful. Great for children.”
Ms. Clark mentioned one particular dance that appeals to the child in all of us. She spoke of the frog in the piece titled The Monkey King Thwarts the Evil Toad. Taken from the classic novel Journey to the West, this tale takes place here on earth as well as on the moon, where an evil toad steals a magic elixir. In the end, all is set right by the Monkey King.
Brandt noted the technical achievement of the animation as a backdrop in the telling of this story.
“I loved the parts where they integrated the visual media along with the dance,” she said. “I thought it was very brilliant and very captivating … when they come from the sky and then all of a sudden [become] the people. I thought that was brilliant and artful—and really delightful.”
With reporting by Gary Feuerberg
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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.