Shen Yun an Eye-Opener, Says Journalist

February 2, 2014 Updated: February 8, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Shen Yun Performing Arts delighted award-winning journalist Donna Francavilla, at Birmingham’s BJCC Concert Hall on Feb. 1. “I think the show is wonderful in many different ways,” Ms. Francavilla said. “One way I feel it important for people who don’t live in China [is to] understand that there are Chinese people who value religion and culture, particularly about the peaceful meditation.”

Ms. Francavilla, who has spent the past decade working for CBS News as a national correspondent and field producer, also owns Frankly Speaking Communications where she provides training. She has been a producer for Oprah and worked for Agence France Presse.

According to the program, “China was once known as the Divine Land, its glorious culture said to have been brought down from the heavens. But under the last 60 years of atheist communist rule, this divinely inspired culture has been almost completely destroyed.” Shen Yun’s mission is to revive authentic Chinese culture.

Ms. Francavilla saw a universal, spiritual, theme in the Shen Yun stories. She said it portrayed “the overall message of how we came to be, really not a religion but spirituality, and how we got to be here. It’s important to tell, because we are so much alike, we may look different, we may have dark skin, light skin, blue eyes, brown eyes, black eyes, but we are all the same.”

Ms. Francavilla was glad Shen Yun portrays the values underlying traditional Chinese civilization. She said she did not experience spirituality in contemporary China.

“When I was in China, there were no churches, there were no … we saw some people in the park doing Tai Chi, that was it. There was no sense of spirituality, and that did not feel normal or healthy. In fact, it even felt a little evil to me,” said Ms. Francavilla.

“It’s disturbing, because we all have the sense of God, we all have the sense of place, and a bigger purpose of ourselves, why we are here. When that is denied, it’s not right, it’s inhuman.”

As a reporter and world traveller, Ms. Francavilla thought Shen Yun could open people’s eyes to the way people live in China.

“This show can actually open the eyes of many people in the South who have never been, as I have, overseas to Asia, and I think it’s a wonderful effort,” she said, recalling difficulties she encountered in China.

“I had difficulty reaching the CBS correspondents there to have a dialogue, because [the authorities] were directing how we spend our time and how we spend our money.

She also found the performance purely entertaining. “Well, I think the stories are charming, I have been a former dancer and I really enjoyed the dancing because I know how difficult that is … the show is full of energy, beautiful costumes and the dancers are fantastic and really entertaining,” Ms. Francavilla said.

Reporting by Zhe Lin and Raiatea Tahana-Reese

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

The 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.