DAYTON, Ohio—The experience of exploring a different culture is always freeing because you must open yourself up to it. The experience is only heightened when it’s a cultural performance and its theme mirrors that experience—when it’s theme embraces freedom.
This theme was felt by several audience members at the Jan. 28 performance at Dayton’s Mead Theatre—Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center as they watched Shen Yun Performing Arts.
“Freedom of expression is a world-wide, universal thing,” said Bill Duncan, the mayor of Oakwood, a neighboring community to Dayton. Mayor Duncan has served on or chaired committees supporting education, community service, or charity for much of his career.
The mayor brought his 11-year-old granddaughter to the performance. His mother, author of the inspirational book, “Seasons of Life: A Journey Within,” attended as well.
New York-based Shen Yun presents an evening of short, story-based dances that tell myths and legends of ancient China. Some depict stories about modern China. The company aims to revive a 5,000 year-old civilization based on cherishing its semi-divine origins.
This heritage has been largely repressed in China today. In fact, Shen Yun is not allowed to perform in mainland China, although it is received and lauded worldwide.
Mayor Duncan felt that it was important Americans know this fact—that Shen Yun cannot perform in China—so that we have a better sense of the world today.
Criminal attorney Nikole Seebock attended the performance the same night and came with her mother and a family friend. She believes that when we learn about different cultures we are educating our own society, “and hopefully embracing a culture of freedom, which is what we always need to do.”
“I saw an appreciation for differences, for culture, for embracing the ability to practice how you want, … and freedom,” said Ms. Seebock, who works for the county.
Thus, the freedom that China lacks, the culture that China has nearly forgotten, Shen Yun has taken up and shared with the world.
Part of that culture lies in a spiritual life.
He believed that there are a lot of universal truths, and that people share similar values at heart, like those expressed in some of the performance: truth, compassion, and forbearance.
That spirituality was expressed subtly at times. For Brother Edward Zamierowski, it was in the modest way the female dancers were dressed.
Brother Edward Zamierowsk spent 43 years at Dayton University as a teacher and administrator. For 14 years, he lived in Africa and learned Swahili.
For him the “precision in the movement” of the dancers and their inner beauty replaced the need to show off their bodies.
Reporting by Sherry Dong and Sharon Kilarski
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.