DETROIT, Mich.—It is one of the great ironic tragedies that an ancient civilization like China is cut off from its rich cultural and spiritual heritage due to its current political structure. Luckily, there exist groups like Shen Yun Performing Arts, who vow to preserve and promote what is at risk of being lost forever.
Shen Yun is a New York-based performing arts company whose seven touring groups present classical Chinese dance and music on the most prestigious stages of the world.
Gene and Evis Kola, who work in logistics and manufacturing, respectively, were grateful to have been able to experience Shen Yun‘s presentation of essential Chinese culture.
“I’m very happy that this kind of show is allowed here,” Mrs. Kola said. “Unfortunately, [it’s] not allowed back in China.”
Mr. Kola was touched by the portrayal of current human rights abuses taking place under the current communist system—particularly those victimizing religious believers.
He said he liked the Falun Gong story, “which is true that [the Chinese regime is] trafficking their organs, and they’re killing people.”
Despite portraying some hard truths, the performance gave a message of hope: that justice and compassion will prevail.
Mary Gulliver, CFO at Phoenix Investment Partners, had wanted to see Shen Yun for years, and was finally treated to the performance as a birthday gift from her fiancé.
She was amazed by the grace, uniformity of movement, and synchronization between the dancers and musicians: “I think it’s amazing that they’re able to precisely move their arms and knees to exact same position as everybody else on the stage. It’s just gorgeous.”
She described the experience as “heartfelt, serene, and peaceful.”
“I think that it’s definitely something that I saw was being taken away, and that in China, that should be revived,” Gulliver said of the traditional art forms presented, including the techniques of classical Chinese dance. “That’s an ancient art that would be horrible to be lost.”
Joe Zago, CEO of The Carpet Guys, on the other hand, is a veteran to Shen Yun. He had seen the performance four years ago, but found this year’s performance as novel as his first encounter. He attended the Detroit performance with his parents, sister, son, and girlfriend.
“I love that even more now because it has the same message but different scenes,” he said.
While Shen Yun has always been about presenting the traditional stories from ancient China, the presenters have highlighted their mission this year with a new tagline: China before communism. It’s an important distinction to make, since traditional Chinese culture has been systematically under attack by the communist regime. It’s Shen Yun’s mission to bring it back.
“What I really liked about this [year], it’s more about humanity—just keeping away from the distractions of modernization and being more in tune with God’s creation, the higher powers,” Zago said.
Reporting by Sherry Dong and Nancy Ma.