MISSISSAUGA, Canada—When Canfin Financial Group reached the company’s 20th anniversary this year, its senior management decided to celebrate with all of the staff by taking everyone to Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Canfin Chairman and CEO Tony Mahabir said the performance was the grand finale to their celebrations, and a very special experience.
“I feel a connection with the show, especially in terms of understanding,” he said after the April 28 evening performance at the Living Arts Centre. “We hear a lot about China—this brings it closer to home.”
“I loved the show. I thought it was very, very enlightening,” said Canfin President and Chief Compliance Officer Manny DaSilva. “I’m glad I came.”
New York-based Shen Yun is the world’s premiere classical Chinese dance and music company. Founded in 2006, its mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture and art forms, and it has been performing around the world ever since.
Having just finished performances in Toronto and Mississauga, the company will head to Quebec, then to Ottawa on its 10th annual Eastern Canada tour.
“I’m glad [Shen Yun] is going around the world,” said Mr. DaSilva.
“I think this is a very good thing to do because that way people get to learn more about Chinese people—not just what they hear on the news about China.”
Indeed, Shen Yun presents a culture that the reigning Chinese Communist Party has long sought to extinguish. China was once thought to have a semi-divine culture, with traditions and spiritual philosophy steeped in the three pillars of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism for thousands of years.
Shen Yun, which translates to “divine beings dancing,” revives legends and art forms that were nearly destroyed during violent campaigns such as the Cultural Revolution—when any cultural beliefs that ran counter to communism were systematically destroyed. Shen Yun is frank about bringing these issues to light, and also highlights modern-day human rights abuses in China. This has long made the company a target of the Chinese regime.
Mr. DaSilva said the fact that Shen Yun had the courage to speak openly about sensitive issues was commendable.
“I believe freedom of speech and ability to express yourself is probably not encouraged [in China]. It’s very encouraging to see that it’s being exercised in [Shen Yun],” he said.
Ken Shaw, a certified financial planner with Canfin, said Shen Yun was also a reminder to appreciate the rights and freedoms enjoyed in the West.
“To me, the underlying message is one of freedom and our ability to believe whatever we want in life,” he said. “In the Western world we have this privilege, and hopefully this will bring it more in tune, in focus, that we have this freedom and we should appreciate that freedom.”
Mr. Mahabir said Shen Yun’s message was ultimately one of joy and peace.
“It promotes happiness, togetherness, harmony and balance,” he said.
“I believe anyone, even if you’re not familiar with China, gets an appreciation for the customs and the culture.”
Mr. DaSilva’s wife, Elena, said it inspired her to want to read up on China’s history and rich culture when she gets home.
“Some of the stories [in Shen Yun] are just amazing. So it would be nice to learn a little bit more,” she said.
“They’re just beautiful dancers—I’ve heard so much about the show and it’s so nice to finally get to see it.”
Reporting by Dongyu Teng 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.