Shen Yun Gives China’s Cultural Heritage Joyful Chance to Survive

February 8, 2015 Updated: February 8, 2015

DETROIT—”If you are in a hotel [in China]and you are watching CNN International and if there is any information at all on CNN International about China, it doesn’t matter the topic, all of the sudden your television goes black, and it’s eliminated,” explained Brenda Schneider. She was trying to make clear that she gets Shen Yun. She really gets what they are trying to do.

At the Detroit Opera House from Feb. 6-8, Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company presents an evening of 20 or so dances that embrace the 5,000 year old Chinese civilization, as well as its more than 50 ethnicities.

The New York-based company aims for a renaissance of ancient Chinese values and arts. This cultural heritage, so many millennia in the making, was almost completely destroyed under decades of communist rule.

It needs to be kept alive.
— Brenda Schneider
“And it needs to be kept alive,” Ms. Schneider said. Formerly the first vice president and director of Business and Development Services for Comerica Bank, Ms. Schneider currently “is a member of the consulting faculty for the Minority Business Education Program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and also serves on several advisory task forces at the Minority Business Development Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce,” according to the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce.

“When you hear young people today, … you can totally understand what they are talking about, about cultural suppression, because if you spend time in China and you see the young people and how they clamor for information about the arts, and information about their cultural history, and what belongs to them, as part of their heritage, you will understand why they celebrate here tonight, because you can see it on their faces,” Ms. Schneider continued.

She and her husband, Tom, also attending the performance, have traveled extensively in Asia. For the past 13 years, Mr. Schneider has been helping to develop curricula for educators in Laos.

Both Mr. and Ms. Schneider love Asian art, and have a special fondness for Chinese music, and so keenly enjoyed hearing the traditional Chinese instruments. These play the melody on top of full Western orchestra that supports them.

Neither anticipated that underlying the artistic presentation, however, would be so much Eastern philosophy which Mr. Schneider really connected with.

As he watched, Mr. Schneider was reflecting on the fact that we in our country are so accustomed to the separation of spiritually from the way a country is governed. Whereas traditionally “the way the people lived was very much in touch with that spirituality.”

“I was very moved by it because I have a great affinity for some of the Eastern religious philosophies. And so this comes out of a core of that based on Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and it was very meaningful,” he said.

The profound cultural heritage of China “is not going to have a chance for survival, unless young people like [Shen Yun performers] are continuing to carry what’s rightfully theirs,” Ms. Schneider said. “And spread the joy of that deep culture of that richness of the music and the richness of the dance. It’s such a joyful celebration to see this on stage,” Ms. Schneider said.

Reporting by Valerie Avore and Sharon Kilarski

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

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