BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom—The perfect synchronicity, colourful costumes, and breath-taking animated digital backdrops all left Shen Yun Performing Arts’ Birmingham audience in awe, but it was the values of compassion and tolerance that left the deepest impression.
“There’s not enough compassion nowadays, everybody’s out for their own selves rather than thinking about other people and I think we ought to think about other people more,” said John Griffiths after seeing the performance of “The Power of Compassion”, one of Shen Yun’s signature story-based dances that is set in modern-day China. It tells of how a persecuted practitioner of the spiritual discipline of Falun Dafa shows compassion for his oppressor with magical results.
Michelle Berridge, who accompanied Mr. Griffiths, agreed, saying, “I think people could be a little bit more tolerant of each other and maybe understand the differences with one another and try to come together.”
New York-based Shen Yun’s mission is to revive 5,000 years of divine Chinese culture that has been suppressed by decades of communist rule, according to their website. Central to traditional Chinese culture are values such as compassion, loyalty, courage, and tolerance.
Kwame Akpokavi saw these values clearly throughout the performance on March 28 at Birmingham’s ICC. “I think it’s a good example for things that are promoting pure, clean living and thoughts to be brought out so that people would be given an alternative to the kind of hatred, competition, and fights that go on in this world,” he said. “The message it shares is not restricted only to Falun Dafa, it’s about life and about how we should live as souls passing through this world.”
Bearing and Form
Shen Yun performers use the highly expressive form of classical Chinese dance to portray myths and legends from Chinese history. The disciplined art form takes on three aspects: technical skill, form, and bearing—the inner spirit of the dancers.
Rachael Charles was entranced by this aspect of the performance. “It was just so beautiful and it really did capture the imagination and the storytelling was just so evident,” she said. “You could see the expression in the dancers and it told a story, their faces told a story, their bodies told a story; it was just very, very animated and passionate.”
This sentiment was echoed by Ekaterina Gorkowienko, who had travelled all the way from Cambridge to see the performance. “The actors are not really acting but living through what they actually show and dance, that’s amazing,” she said.
“For example, if the actors show despair you really feel their despair in their eyes and their pain, and if there is happiness in the dance it seems like they are going to fly—amazing!”
Shen Yun’s dancers spend many hours perfecting their movements, as well as cultivating their inner selves in order to be able to achieve this.
“It’s amazing the expression that is put into the dance by the dancers; the dancers portray the characters and feelings of the dance beautifully. It really is wonderful to watch, so happy that we’re here!” said Casey Camp with enthusiasm.
Her father, Shaun, agreed: “It’s just so expressive, the dancers are so graceful, they’re so athletic, it’s a pleasure to watch.”
Ms. Camp was also touched by the dance “The Power of Compassion”: “I thought that was stunning in the way it was portrayed and designed. It’s interesting to see that compassionate gesture, even in the face of persecution, and violence, and hatred … the strength; it’s very powerful and underestimated.”
Mr. Camp enjoyed the uplifting spirit of Shen Yun, saying it was a welcome antidote to the often overwhelming negativity portrayed in the media. “It’s nice to just take time out to listen and watch and just experience the positive things in life. Maybe it will open our eyes and we’ll see more [compassion] in our daily lives? I hope so,” he said.
Proud of Chinese Culture
Helena Hung was proud to be Chinese after seeing Shen Yun. “I think this performance is stunning, brilliant! I’m so impressed with it, it’s highly skilful and the whole thing is just brilliant,” she said, adding that “The message is very clear, the pure Chinese traditions about love, about truth.”
Ms. Hung felt it was outrageous that Falun Dafa is being suppressed in China. “The majority of people who support human rights support Falun Dafa, and the spirit. So the message is very, very clear,” she said. “I’m so glad to have the opportunity to see this show.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Susan Chan, Mary Mann & Kat Piper
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform 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.