Shen Yun Preserves History, Says Toronto Lawyer

April 22, 2016 4:14 am Last Updated: April 22, 2016 4:17 am

TORONTO—Lawyer Joel Etienne found a valuable history lesson in Shen Yun Performing Arts on Thursday night at the Sony Centre.

“When they say they cover 5, 000 years, it’s true. … You go from ancient to current so quickly and to have all that blended and in harmony is very unique and special,” he said.

A former television and radio broadcaster, Mr. Etienne is currently practicing law in Toronto and has been a guest on CBC radio as well as other television programs to teach the public about various legal aspects.

Based in New York, Shen Yun was established in 2006 by a group of overseas Chinese artists who wanted to restore the divinely inspired culture of China that has been all but lost in China under decades of communist rule.

“I think they are preservers of this history,” said Mr. Etienne about Shen Yun. “The big concern is that if they were not there, then who would be keeping this history or preserving this history.”

Mr. Etienne was particularly struck by the Chinese dance story, “Monks and the Red Guards,” set during the time of the Cultural Revolution. A group of Red Guards storms in to destroy a Buddhist temple, only to find itself overpowered by the monks’ supernatural martial arts skills.

Lawyer Joel Etienne at the Shen Yun Performing Arts opening night performance at Toronto's Sony Centre, April 21, 2016. (Lisa Ou/Epoch Times)
Lawyer Joel Etienne at the Shen Yun Performing Arts’ opening night performance at Toronto’s Sony Centre, April 21, 2016. (Lisa Ou/Epoch Times)

Mr. Etienne was glad to get the opportunity to better understand the tragedies that happened during the Cultural Revolution, whose details still remain relatively unknown in the West.

Through Shen Yun’s journey through 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, Mr. Etienne was also able to clearly see the difference between ancient China and the China of today. In ancient China, the divine was part of people’s lives, while ever since the arrival of communist rule in China, spiritual beliefs have been severely persecuted in China.

“The message is that there is a harm to the body collective because of the inability of people to live out their spiritual lives. And this harm has carried over now since the Cultural Revolution and is carried on to today,” he said.

“When you look at the ancient you see that there’s a balance. And when you look at the modern there’s a crime because of this imbalance, people can’t live a fulsome complete life as a collective,” he said.

Mr. Etienne said he hopes Shen Yun would one day offer the Chinese population an opportunity “to reconnect with its own language and culture and spiritual lives.”

Reporting by Lisa Ou and Madalina Hubert

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company is currently touring Eastern Canada. 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 reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.