WASHINGTON—Shen Yun Performing Arts treated those in the audience at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Saturday, March 24, to a display of traditional Chinese culture through music and dance.
“I like it a lot,” said Patrick Brenton, of the U.S. Department of State. “I recommend this show to everyone. Culturally it is something that everybody would enjoy.”
Shen Yun is based in New York and has one mission: to revive 5,000 years of divinely-inspired Chinese culture, and its virtues such as kindness, sincerity, and honor, as well as respect for the heavens, according to the company’s website. After more than 60 years of communist rule in China nearly destroyed the ancient culture, Shen Yun was formed in 2006 and began to travel the world, appearing in top venues such as New York’s Lincoln Center and The London Coliseum.
Joey, Mr. Brenton’s son said he “enjoyed it very much and the background was impressive,” referring to the digital backdrops that complement the heart of a Shen Yun performance, the high-level art form that is classical Chinese dance.
Also presented are brilliantly colored costumes and an orchestra that melds classical Western and traditional Chinese instruments such as the 4,000-year-old erhu, or two-stringed Chinese violin.
‘I appreciate the opportunity’
Richard Garrison, retired from the Department of State, was also in the audience on Saturday. “I enjoyed the show,” Mr. Garrison said. “[But] I am puzzled why there is trouble, what the excitement is in China—I do not understand the resistance there and I am glad to have the opportunity to learn more about it.”
Using a “wide array of … state-sponsored movements,” the Chinese Communist Party since 1949 has targeted different segments of the Chinese society for persecution, such as the traditional religions of Buddhism and Taoism and intellectuals, according to Shen Yun’s website. “Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is guided by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and has helped over a hundred million Chinese people understand and return to the essence of traditional Chinese culture—Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist schools of thought.”
The Chinese Communist Party has since 1999 engaged in “a ruthless and systematic campaign against Falun Gong practitioners in an attempt to eradicate the group,” states Shen Yun’s website. “But Falun Gong practitioners have held firm to their beliefs and have continued to expose countless injustices through peaceful means. Their spirit of compassion and tolerance manifest the very essence of China’s 5,000-year-old divine culture.”
Some dances in the program depict the current situation in China, something Mr. Garrison could relate to.
“There are examples of people beset by problems and overcoming the problems, and aspiring to a higher goal, and I can certainly identify with that–the problems that we all face from time to time,” he said. “The moments of departing, of sorrow those were moments that definitely touched me.”
“I would describe it as a Chinese culture extending back over the centuries, over thousands of years, brought up into contemporary times and, in some way, explaining some of the information that comes out of China about disturbances or demonstrations and what is going on there—this helps in understanding that,” Mr. Harrison added. “I appreciate the opportunity.”
Reporting by NTD Television, Flora Ge, and Zachary Stieber.
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform at The Kennedy Center Opera House, Washington, D.C., through April 1.
For more information visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org