FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Every teacher and parent knows that whatever we wish to pass down to the next generation is worth preserving. Some are fighting to preserve our environment, some struggle to preserve their language, some are risking their lives to preserve freedom of belief.
Shen Yun Performing Arts is on a mission to preserve the 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture. This culture, according to the company’s website, was passed on by the divine to the people on earth. This is why China was known as “Shen Zhou” or “The Divine Land.”
Although in China today there’s little left of the traditional culture, since much of it was destroyed by the communists during the ’60s, Shen Yun is daringly reviving this culture through music and dance on the world’s big stages.
“We’re very, very excited that people are still doing this, and future generations can see this,” Bill Detzner said after seeing the show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 10, 2016.
Mr. Detzner attended Shen Yun with his wife Jenny, both lifelong educators who are now enjoying retirement. They’ve been coming to experience the culture Shen Yun brings for the past three to four years.
In addition to presenting classical Chinese dance, folk dances, and dances that showcase ancient Chinese legends, Shen Yun also brings the audience scenes from modern day China, where freedom of belief is brutally persecuted.
“It’s good [to showcase this], because where else can you see this? And if people don’t do it, then it’s lost forever,” Mr. Detzner said about the importance of reviving the almost lost traditional culture of China.
Karl Anderson, a communications technician at AT&T, agreed that the younger generation is in need of learning history and preserving culture.
“If you don’t know your past, then you really don’t know where you’re going,” Mr. Anderson said.
Mr. Anderson’s daughter Krystin was delighted at the opportunity to attend Shen Yun and learn more about traditional Chinese culture.
She’s been learning Chinese in school. “I really love it, and I got immersed in it. So, every chance I get to learn something else, I just really enjoy it,” she said.
‘There Should Be Freedom of Belief’
No matter how much audience members comprised of local officials, renowned artists, or even world leaders praise Shen Yun, the performance cannot be seen in mainland China. The company explains that this is because China’s Communist Regime, which is still the ruling political party in the country, has been trying to eradicate all traditional culture since the ’60s.
This also leads to mass attacks and persecution of religious groups like Falun Gong, a meditation-type practice that started in China in 1992. Shen Yun dances depict scenes from present day China which shows Falun Gong practitioners persecuted for their faith by the authorities, because they choose to practice their belief in truth, compassion, and forbearance.
For many Americans, this part of Chinese history seems absurd.
“The Falun Gong, they’re not harming anybody. So if you’re not harming anybody, you should be allowed to do what you please. It helps your health … so I think it needs to be allowed,” Mr. Detzner said.
“There should be freedom of beliefs and freedom of religion,” he said.
Portia Anderson, who accompanied Mr. Anderson to the theater stressed that freedom of belief is truly important too.
“If you don’t have a foundation, you don’t have a rock, you don’t have anything to stand on. So, when you are faced with hard times, if you don’t have that solid rock of your faith and your belief, … you’re going to fall, and the people will fall if individuals start falling,” Portia Anderson said.
Reporting by Mary Yuan and Kristina Pentchoukova
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
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.