OTTAWA, Canada—Over a decade ago, a group of artists came together in New York. They had one wish: to revive China’s 5,000 years of semi-divine traditional culture and share it with the world. Their passion and dedication gave birth to the world-class dance and music company, Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Year after year, the company continues to inspire audience members, showcasing beauty and harmony through universal principles and timeless messages. And these timeless messages are what captivated Leonard Reil and his wife, who experienced the performance at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada, on Dec, 28.
“There are certain timeless truths that are important to keep,” Reil said. “You know, our forebearers had a lot of great things that they could teach us and that we could appreciate.”
“The world changes a great deal but I think in our core, humans remain largely the same and those things that we need to deal with and the principles by which we can live our lives are timeless things,” he added.
Reil, who is a political and economic consul for the Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai, said it was wonderful to see Shen Yun using art as a way to share what’s important to the world.
“It’s a great thing to do if you think you have a useful message, to try and find a way to resonate that message with others. I think it’s a great endeavor,” he said.
Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, respect for the heavens, and divine retribution, are some of the timeless messages portrayed in Shen Yun’s performances. These principles are portrayed in many Shen Yun’s story dances—which are like little excerpts from Chinese history.
A unique feature of Chinese civilization is that its history has been recorded and passed down uninterrupted for 5,000 years, sometimes in vivid detail, according to the company website. This provides Shen Yun with a vast amount of source material to retell ancient stories on stage.
Reil said he really enjoyed the story dances for the meaning behind each story.
Describing one story of romance from this year’s program, he said, “I enjoyed that idea of recognizing that rash actions can have bad consequences and that love is something worth fighting for.”
He also enjoyed the piece, Goodness in the Face of Evil, a story about a person trying to teach her mom about Falun Dafa.
“Being willing to endure genuine trials for what’s important in your own life. I thought … that’s a timeless message,” he said. “Those things that are most important in your life are worth standing for.”
Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, is a spiritual practice that’s currently banned in China. Many of Shen Yun’s performers practice Falun Dafa, which is guided by the principles of “Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance.” Because of its spiritual nature, the practice has helped over a hundred million Chinese people understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture.
But the Chinese regime, whose ideology is in stark contrast with the traditional culture of China that continued for five millennial unbroken, has targeted Falun Dafa for persecution since 1999. Shen Yun showcases some Falun Dafa-related dance stories and lyrics, which, like other stories, portray themes like spiritual devotion, the benevolence of gods, good and evil retribution, and the search for the meaning of life, according to the company’s website. These items touch people’s minds and hearts and are unconcerned with politics.
Meanwhile, Reil’s wife, Jennifer, also enjoyed that particular story piece, saying that she was moved and almost cried during the performance.
“I just felt really sad for those that can’t worship or believe how they want to,” Jennifer said, adding that she still wanted to cry even after the performance.
“I’m a spiritual person, and I believe in God and I believe we did come from Heaven and will go back to Heaven, and it’s nice to see other believers. Again I feel, it’s unfortunate that not everybody can worship how they want to.”
The sheer beauty of the music and dance was what helped communicate such moving messages.
Initially, Jennifer had no idea what “Shen Yun” meant, but the emcees explained during the performance that it translated into something like “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” and those words clicked immediately.
“I was like yes! That’s what it is, it is the beauty of divine beings dancing. It was incredible,” she said.
With reporting by NTD Television and Janita Kan.
The Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time and has covered audience reactions since the company’s inception in 2006.