MILAN, Italy—Shen Yun “is a testimony, an extraordinary proof of how a rich and proud culture like the Chinese could and must resist the abuse of power—power that tries to deny the most basic human rights,” said Riccardo Facchini, who had seen the performance at the end of March at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi.
Mr. Facchini, a bank official, found the performance—showcasing China’s traditional music and dance—remarkable because it serves to repudiate abusive power: “It’s very positive, the mention of, or let’s say the reflections and considerations about the problems, regarding human rights in today’s People’s Republic of China.”
“It’s an act of denunciation against that power, that ideology that crushed that culture, that has tried to fight and destroy it by denying the most basic human rights, like the freedom of expression, the freedom of thought, the freedom of religion.”
In 2006, Chinese performing artists, who yearned to express time-honored values through traditional arts, came together in New York and founded Shen Yun Performing Arts. These arts could not be performed in their country of origin since the communist regime had been systematically uprooting China’s rich heritage for decades.
Through Shen Yun, a non-profit, however, these ancient arts and underlying philosophies have been resuscitated.
As Mr. Facchini said, the performance is “an extraordinary chance to build a culture that doesn’t exist anymore, or that has at best been sleeping, and that has been somewhat crushed.”
“So it’s an extraordinary testimony of how this rich and millennia-long culture can stand up to this decade-long repression,” he said.
The decade-long repression refers to the persecution of practitioners of Falun Gong—people who live by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The communist party began its campaign against Falun Gong in 1999, more than a decade ago, and Shen Yun presents two dance dramas, two of its 20 short programs, on this ongoing persecution.
Despite the heavy themes of some of the dances, Mr. Facchini was impressed by the performances beauty and joy: “The choreography was extraordinary, the prettiness and the feeling of magic were extraordinary, and also the spirituality that permeates the stage was extraordinary. It’s really beautiful.”
“It struck me how the dancers continued to dance with a smile on their faces, which is pretty extraordinary, isn’t it? Because this really conveys the feel of something merry, joyful, serene. It conveys an idea of hope, joy, enthusiasm,” he continued.
The combination of Western and Eastern instruments was extraordinary, he felt, and was happily surprised to see that the orchestra was conducted by a woman.
He felt the addition of two bilingual emcees was important, as they added explanations for stories very different from those in the West. While we have the man in the moon, the Chinese celebrate the bittersweet story of the Lady in the Moon, separated forever from her husband when she drinks a potion granting immortality.
There is the tale of the Monkey King, an allegory for a monk who brought Buddhism to China.
“It’s nice to discover stories and traditions that are very far from ours, but that in some way, through the spiritual content, can come together and connect in a profoundly human spirituality, which is profoundly universal,” said Mr. Facchini, commenting most specifically on the philosophical lyrics sung by a bass and tenor.
“The soloists sing these songs that continue to ask people to detach themselves from earthly worries, which very often are just mere superficial desires, fame, wealth, and instead to search for what is really meaningful in life, while also denouncing the menace of atheism and modern culture, and inviting us to search for the meaning of life and of being human,” he said.
The whole performance resonated spiritually for him. “I think that, in some way, watching Shen Yun, participating in Shen Yun is also a form of meditation, of reflection about ourselves and about the meaning of life,” he said.
Reporting by NTD Television and Sharon Kilarski
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.