Former Belfast City Councillor Finds Hope in Shen Yun

January 24, 2014

TORONTO—Jim Kirkpatrick has seen what happens when the human society loses its moral compass and it has left him, at times, saddened. As a politician in Ireland, he came face to face with corruption and says that if people can’t think for themselves, there’s little hope things will get better.

But on Thursday night, he left the Sony Centre for Performing Arts uplifted, and pondering the ramifications of the night’s entertainment.

A reporter once told him he was always too independently minded for party politics. In Shen Yun Performing Arts that night he saw otherwise.

“With this show, I’m realizing, it’s this independence of thought that’s so important for civilization and the future.

“It’s a sad thing it is lost in China today. I have been there eight times and I can see the weaknesses of the authoritarian state, and the corruption that goes with it. This was refreshing. I wish the people of China could have enjoyed this. But they can’t.”

Shen Yun staged the first of its run of Toronto performances that night, bringing 5,000 years of divinely inspired Chinese culture with it, traditions founded on virtues like compassion, justice, and wisdom that have been assailed by 60 years of communist rule. 

“It’s a wonderful civilization and a wonderful culture that’s destroyed by power hungry men,” said Mr. Kirkpatrick. 

Without the virtues that are the foundation of traditional cultures the world over, the human race suffers, he said. 

“It causes corruption among the powerful and the wealthy and it destroys and harms the poor who have to struggle and engage in corruption for survival.”

But Shen Yun was an antidote to that, he said, and seeing the power of dance and music rooted in true traditional culture left him inspired.

“I’m encouraged now. I am going to go home [to Ireland] and have a new way of thinking. The reporter that said to me ‘Jim you’re too independently minded for politics,’ I want to speak to her again. I want to tell her that if we don’t have independence of thought, we are going to sink into corruption as China is at the moment. I think it would enrich the lives of 1.3 billion Chinese if they had the fresh air of this performance blowing across China. Not at the moment, but in time it will come.”

Shen Yun’s performance of classical Chinese dance ranks among the very best in the world. Classical Chinese dance is an art form thousands of years old, passed down dynasty after dynasty, enriched by its practitioners in imperial courts, opera houses, and from teacher to student.

“It was superb and there was a lighthearted aspect to it too. Everybody was enjoying themselves, not just the audience, the performers,” Mr. Kirckpatrick said.

Asked for his overall reaction, he said, “Beautiful. And how they merged the film into reality, it was so well done. It requires an awful lot of skill to produce this. And they are all skilled people. It was a wonderful performance. I am going home on Sunday, so I have a lot to think about.”

That film is Shen Yun’s vividly animated projected backdrop, a high-tech digital compliment that synchronizes with the costumes, orchestra, and dancers on the stage. Some of the scenes displayed there interact with the dancers.

He said Shen Yun’s orchestra, which combines classical Western instruments with traditional Chinese instruments leading the melodies, was “superb.”

“I’m going home encouraged by this performance tonight,” he said.

Retired from politics, Mr. Kirkpatrick began as a representative in the short-lived Northern Ireland Assembly in 1982, and continued on as a city councillor in Belfast until 2011. He twice left his political parties over disagreements with their policies.

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s World Company will perform in Toronto until Jan. 26. For more information, visit

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.

Toronto, Canada
Shen Yun World Company