Mayor of Guelph Discovers Love of Classical Chinese Dance

December 30, 2014 Updated: November 17, 2017

KITCHENER, Canada—Cam Guthrie, the recently elected Mayor of Guelph, discovered classical Chinese dance Monday night at Centre In The Square when Shen Yun Performing Arts took to the stage there for the first of two shows in Kitchener.

Mayor Guthrie is a local businessman and a musician, who is active in the community as a volunteer for several organizations including Michael House, the Guelph Neighbourhood Watch Association, and the Guelph-Wellington Business Enterprise Centre, where he volunteers to help entrepreneurs and established business owners grow their businesses.

Mr. Guthrie took a moment during intermission to share his thoughts on the performance he was attending that night.

“I’m blown away, it’s absolutely amazing. The choreography is great, but there’s also a story to every dance and so you find yourself really looking deeply into each routine to get a great story out of it.”

Shen Yun is the world’s premier classical Chinese dance performing arts company. Classical Chinese dance has a long history, passed down in imperial courts and among the people dynasty after dynasty in China, being enriched and refined over thousands of years. And many of Shen Yun’s dances are mini-drama pieces that draw on the myriad of stories and legends spanning China’s history.

New York-based Shen Yun was founded on a mission to revive the Middle Kingdom’s 5,000 years of divinely inspired civilization, a culture that has been systematically destroyed under the current communist regime.

Shen Yun’s website explains that every dance embodies traditional Chinese values. “Ideals of loyalty, filial piety, and veneration for the divine are cherished and celebrated,” it reads.

“Heroes are extolled for their compassion and tolerance as much as their courage or determination when facing adversity.”

There is a divine element to many of the pieces, including one that Mayor Guthrie noted from the first half, The Fable of the Magic Brush.

In the dance, a young man befriends a mysterious maiden and defends her from a band of ruffians. She gifts him a magic brush that turns anything it paints into life. Then she flies away and assumes her true form, a silver dragon.

The young man paints a granary full of rice to feed his village. When the thugs, with greedy motives, return to steal the rice, the brush does not obey their impure hearts and the young painter devises a plan to rectify the situation.

“That was a great story and funny at the same time,” said Mayor Guthrie.

“There was that battle between good and evil, and of course good prevailed in the end. It was really great.”

He noted that many of the themes and ideas that formed the root of traditional Chinese culture were common values shared in the West, ideas like honour, honesty, trust, and freedom.

The mayor said he was also touched by one of the contemporary pieces—Shen Yun also stages dances based on the true stories, both tragic and heroic, of millions of families in China today.

“We’re quite blessed here in the West to have that freedom, and there’s still those struggles going on today in China. So that really kind of hit home to me,” he said.

He said the spirituality that permeated traditional Chinese culture clearly came through in the dances.

“I’ve learned a lot, I’ve learned quite a bit. It really opened up my mind and my eyes and my heart to quite a bit more about the Chinese culture that I did not know before.”

“I’d like to get to know the culture a bit better just from being introduced to it tonight.”

Founded in 2006, Shen Yun Performing Arts has seen rapid growth—now with four companies, each featuring some 100 performers, performing around the world.

As a part of its 2015 world tour, Shen Yun is performing in over 100 cities on five continents, gracing some of the world’s most prestigious stages such as New York’s Lincoln Center, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, and Paris’s Palais des Congrès de Paris.

With reporting by NTD Television

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit

Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts a significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.