NEW YORK—Shen Yun Performing Arts performs in dozens of countries each year, but there is one country where it can’t travel to—China.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banned the company, whose mission is to revive 5,000 years of Chinese culture, from performing in there because it was established by practitioners of spiritual discipline Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, a practice persecuted in China.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, using classical Chinese dance, depicts among its program stories of the persecution of Falun Dafa practitioners under the communist regime. Falun Dafa is a meditation practice based on the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. It spread widely in China in the 1990s, resulting in around 70 million people practicing in the country by the end of the decade. This popularity was unacceptable to the CCP, which banned the practice in 1999. Practitioners are subject to imprisonment, torture, forced labor, brainwashing and even death.
It was these stories of persecution that resonated with Garrette Furo, partner and CIO at a New York-based investment management firm.
“The persecution of the people is a powerful statement,” he said after watching the performance at the Lincoln Center in New York City on Jan. 16.
While the dancing and costumes were excellent, Furo said, the stories about suppression of faith in modern-day China gave him pause.
Furo said it made him think about how other instances of persecution have been allowed to occur in history, such as the Holocaust.
“[It] makes me think about my life,” he said.
“How could you see something like that and not feel … very lucky, or muse on life and society?”
The fund manager said he has even been acquainted to the teachings of Falun Dafa, and concludes that “Falun Dafa is good.” This is also a common message seen on banners held by Falun Dafa practitioners appealing the persecution.
Furo attended the performance with Isabelle Kitze, marketing manager at at Wall Street investment management firm, who has seen Shen Yun around five times.
New York-based Shen Yun was founded in 2006, by a group of artists who wanted to preserve and share the authentic traditional Chinese culture, which had been suppressed by communist rule in China. Through classical Chinese dance, accompanied by a live orchestra, elaborate handcrafted costumes, and an animated backdrop, Shen Yun tours the globe each year with an all-new program.
Kitze applauded Shen Yun’s efforts in spreading the news about Falun Dafa.
“I love that they are educating people … in the western world about Falun Dafa, and the impact that it has on the Chinese community, and benefits of it as well,” she said.
“The message of Falun Dafa just gets more powerful [every year].”
The marketing manager was pleased with the peformance’s success.
“I’m really happy that the turn out has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger over [the] years.”
With reporting by Cathy He.
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.