CLAREMONT, Calif.—Mr. Bill Prata thought he came to enjoy the famous artistry of Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Bridges Auditorium on April 9. Little did he know, the performance would enlighten him to the Chinese communist regime’s oppression.
“It was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the music. I enjoyed the dancing. It was incredible. The message was beyond belief. I was extremely surprised at such a great message coming out,” said Mr. Prata after watching the first part of the performance.
Mr. Prata is a professional safety consultant for a corporation. He also owns a consulting business that provides professional safety courses around the country. He teaches over 2,000 people per week.
He finds it offensive that people aren’t allowed to follow their spiritual beliefs. “I think the big underlying message of the show was fantastic. Everybody should see it.”
He was troubled by the oppression of spirituality in China portrayed through the performance. “We should be free to worship who we wish. We shouldn’t have oppression from the government to dictate to us what we believe and what we don’t believe.”
Mr. Prata was referring to two vignettes called “Monks and the Red Guard” and “The Steadfast Heart,” which depict the persecution of Buddhist monks and Falun Dafa practitioners in China. Both ultimately triumph through their peaceful faiths.
Falun Dafa is a peaceful meditation practice that embraces the guiding principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Gong practitioners have been brutally persecuted by the communist regime since 1999.
According to the Shen Yun website, traditional Chinese culture is rooted in spirituality. Chinese society was deeply influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. This culture was passed on for 5,000 years until the Chinese communist regime decided to uproot it, and force atheism upon the people.
China was once known as the “Celestial Kingdom,” a land where the divine and mortals coexisted. The ancient Chinese believed that Chinese culture was brought down from the heavens, and they believed in harmony between heaven, earth, and humankind.
Mr. Prata said that prior to the communist regime, it was great that China’s people were free to follow their religions and beliefs.
In 2006, a group of leading classical Chinese artists from around the world founded the independent, nonprofit Shen Yun Performing Arts in New York. It aims to revive, and share with the world, traditional Chinese culture through storytelling dance and music.
Through approximately 20 vignettes, audiences are invited to take a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese civilization that includes myths, legends, and modern stories of courage where “mortals and divine beings merge on stage as one,” according to the website.
Not only did Shen Yun help everyone be aware of over a billion of great people in China who need to be free, said Mr. Prata, it also inspired him and brought him hope.
“The overall message that I took out of [the performance] was that if you’re a good person, you get the opportunity to go to heaven. If you’re not, well, there’s another place.”
Reporting by Jane Yang and Thanh Le
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.