SYDNEY—A Taiwanese-Australian businessman purchased 120 Shen Yun Performing Arts tickets for New South Wales firefighters and their family and friends, in a sincere gesture of thanks for the firefighters’ sacrifices in recent months when Australia experienced prolonged bushfires.
Hailing from various parts of NSW, firefighters and their loved ones saw the world-class Shen Yun performances at Sydney‘s Capitol Theatre. Two separate groups of about 60 per group caught the shows on March 10 and March 11, 2020.
The man behind it all, who goes by the surname Lu, reflected on what the firefighters endured in recent months when hundreds of blazes scorched the nation in an unusually prolonged summer bushfire season, exacerbated by three years of drought.
“Australian firefighters have invested a lot and worked very hard to fight disasters in the past few months,” Lu said on March 10 at the theater. “They have sacrificed a lot of their time, such as reuniting with their families, rest time, [and faced] physical and mental exhaustion.”
The bushfires killed at least 33 people and scorched more than 10.3 million hectares (103,000 sq km) of land—about the size of South Korea—from September 2019 to early February 2020.
Lu said he wanted to gift the firefighters an experience that left him uplifted and profoundly moved. March 10 was Lu’s second time seeing Shen Yun. He said that he was struck by the purity and beauty of the show when he saw it the first time.
“I was deeply touched from the bottom of my heart when I first saw Shen Yun,” he said. “An inexplicable kind of feeling.”
“I think Shen Yun is a good performance,” Lu added. “So I took this opportunity to invite [the firefighters] to also enjoy the performances. I think it could be a very good spiritual adjustment for them.”
Shen Yun seeks to inspire theatergoers by bringing back to life the spirit of China’s culture, where harmony is emphasized between heaven, earth, and humankind.
According to the company, the programs include themes that seek to inspire compassion and a sense of hope. Principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, and respect for the heavens, come to life on stage.
Firefighter Michael Harvey was invited and brought his 12-year-old daughter Eliana along to see Shen Yun on March 10.
“I really enjoy it,” Harvey said. “I’ve been wanting to come a few times it’s been here, so it’s the first time I’ve been able to come, so it’s been really good.”
Harvey’s daughter also said she enjoyed the performance.
Craig Hartley, another firefighter, brought his family to see the performance also on March 10. He said he was happy to have been invited.
“My family’s really enjoying it,” he said. “It’s nice because you’re explaining the culture as well … you’re seeing and learning something about arts that’s been going for thousands of years. I love it.”
Shen Yun Is Reviving Culture
The term “Shen Yun” translates to “the beauty of divine beings dancing.”
Lu said, “The first time I watched Shen Yun, I thought the group was from China. Later I learned that it wasn’t, Shen Yun was from New York.”
According to the company, its performers have not been to China in years, because Shen Yun is banned by the Chinese regime to perform there.
China’s divinely-inspired culture, which spans some 5,000 years, was almost completely destroyed under decades of Chinese Communist rule.
Shen Yun’s mission of reviving Chinese culture “could only be undertaken outside of China,” the company said in a statement, adding that it is because “in China, the communist regime has spent the last seventy years trying to systematically destroy traditional culture, values, and the arts.”
Lu said he felt that Shen Yun, through dance and music, could truly salvage China’s rich cultural heritage.
“I think this culture cannot be lost,” Lu said. “[Shen Yun] ensures that Chinese culture can be passed down to future generations. And this is not an easy feat.”
The invited NSW firefighters and their loved ones gathered for a group photo after the performance. As they smiled, they said to the camera together, “I love Shen Yun!”
After seeing the smiles on the firefighters’ faces, Lu said that he too was very happy.
With reporting by Anne Wang, Loritta Liu, and Mimi Nguyen Ly.