WASHINGTON—Prominent Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng is longtime fan of Shen Yun Performing Arts. Since arriving in the United States in 2012, he has attended the performance time and again to bask in the glow from an authentic telling of traditional Chinese culture.
Chen’s deepest takeaway this year, after attending the opening night performance at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington on April 17, was a feeling of gratification that Shen Yun has been welcomed in all segments of society, in spite of a consistent campaign by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to disrupt the company’s performances in many locations around the world.
“Looking back, the CCP has used threats and intimidation to prevent people from seeing Shen Yun, but in these 10-plus years I’ve seen Shen Yun win the hearts of Americans from all segments of society,” Chen said.
“It seems that the CCP’s suppression can no longer be sustained.”
Indeed, Chen intimately understands the nature of communist suppression. As a human rights lawyer and activist in China, he became known for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations committed under China’s one-child policy. He also advocated for land rights and for persons with disabilities. As a result of this advocacy, he was imprisoned for four years and three months.
The lawyer made headlines in 2012 after he made a daring escape from house arrest, fleeing to the American Embassy in Beijing. He and his family were eventually allowed to leave to the United States, where he now resides. He is currently a fellow at the Center for Human Rights at the Catholic University of America.
Valuing Traditional Chinese Culture
Although Chen has been blind since youth, he has always felt a strong affinity with the music of Shen Yun.
Along with enjoying listening to intricacies of the rhythmic arrangement played by Shen Yun’s orchestra, the messages behind the music and the stories provoked deep reflection this year.
The closing piece titled “The Final Moment” did exactly that, he said. The story set in modern-day China was directly connected to what’s going on in society and people’s lives.
“People watching the program will think about where they are going in life, and why did they come here?” he said.
For Chen, there was a deeper meaning to the program that was waiting to be discovered via a personal journey of self-reflection.
Learning about traditional Chinese culture as depicted by Shen Yun is also beneficial to modern audiences, whether of Chinese ancestry or not, Chen said.
Given that New York-based Shen Yun reflects the essence of a culture that has lasted thousands of years, Chen believes that it can be a useful guide for people all over the world.
“I hope that people can, through Shen Yun, re-examine China’s divinely-inspired culture.”
Traditional Chinese culture, Chen said, stands in stark contrast to prevailing trends in modern society that has emphasized the material over the spiritual.
“It is worthwhile to reflect on Chinese culture through the lens of Shen Yun and China’s divinely-imparted culture.”
“So we can once again purify our hearts, and return to a state of truth and simplicity.”
With reporting by NTD Television.
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.