KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Pastor Kevin Haley had no idea that Shen Yun Performing Arts would be so rich with history and philosophy. “I wasn’t expecting it. I thought it was just going to be dancing,” he said at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on April 2.
Shen Yun is dancing. The company, which formed in 2006, is known as the world’s premier classical Chinese dance company, and in ten short years the one company has grown to four and tours over 130 cities across the globe.
But that dance form is not just dance for entertainment value. It has the magical abilities to express both history and philosophy. The dance form’s expressiveness enables the company to tell stories, legends, and classic tales from the country’s long and varied history.
The performance opens with the legend of the Creator, which intrigued Pastor Haley of Redeemer Fellowship Church. When the Creator appears in the dance, He calls upon a “multitude of divine beings to descend to Earth and fulfill their sacred vows,” as the program notes state.
China was once known as the Divine Land. “This profound name describes a land where deities and mortals coexisted, and a belief that the divine transmitted a rich culture to the people of the earth,” the website explains.
Each dance in some way embodies a divine gift, from “Tang Dynasty Grace,” in which the ladies’ fans sleeves were said to have been inspired from celestial garments, to “Poets of the Orchid Pavilion,” which displays Chinese calligraphy, considered a gift from above.
The calligraphy was especially meaningful to Pastor Haley, and represents a piece of China’s heritage—a heritage that Shen Yun is trying to save. Traditional Chinese culture has been under attack for decades by the communist party.
“I just loved the fact that they’re trying to revive something that the [regime] was stamping out and I was not expecting that,” Pastor Haley said.
He believes that whenever people move away from “any kind of philosophical or theological culture, more pressure or persecution happens,” so he feels it is dangerous to lose sacred or ethical grounding for a culture.
Pastor Haley made clear that Shen Yun was not presenting a protest, as the performance did not arise from anger and hate, but instead called the mission’s manifestation wonderful, meaningful, and gentle.
He believes humans “are motivated and driven to maintain what we believe in,” and sees this deep belief as the force behind the performance.
But it is not a protest. Shen Yun does “it in such a peaceful and artistic way,” he said.
Reporting by Stacey Tang 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.