MEMPHIS, Tenn.—It was the best of China, it was the worst of China; Shen Yun Performing Arts did not shy away from presenting to its audiences what China was like in ancient times, and what has been happening in China in the modern day. Shen Yun performed at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, on Jan. 28, and left the audience more aware of the events happening halfway across the world in China.
“It was very enlightening,” said Ian McCloud, a biomedical engineer. “I don’t think a lot of people realize what’s going on in China and it was really interesting to see how they implemented that into the storyline.”
Based in New York, Shen Yun was founded in 2006 by leading Chinese artists who were forced to flee China’s oppressive government. Shen Yun’s mission is to revive traditional Chinese culture through classical Chinese dance and music, and to show it audiences the beauty of China before communism.
Mr. McCloud expressed his hopes for China to be free of communism.
“I think it would be awesome if China could return to before communism,” he said. “Communism’s no good for anyone in the world and if China could get back to their original culture that would be just awesome for them and everyone. I personally see America taking that direction [toward communism] itself and it’s not something that anybody wants to experience. So I feel for the people because I see a lot of things that are making us head that way.”
Shen Yun’s program comprises of a series of dance vignettes, including story-based dances, some of which depict modern-day China where the communist regime’s persecution of followers of Falun Dafa—a spiritual practice that teaches the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—is taking place. One of the stories depicted the communist regime’s brutal crime of organ harvesting.
“I don’t think a lot of people know that that’s going on,” said Mr. McCloud. “I wish more people knew.”
Also in the audience was Daryl Murton, who works in law enforcement. Mr. Murton said that he had done some research on Falun Dafa’s persecution prior to watching Shen Yun, and was glad the performance was spreading awareness of what happening in China.
“I don’t think a lot of Americans know that’s actually happening in China today, so I’m really glad that they’re telling people about it because the world needs to know.”
Mr. Murton also appreciated Shen Yun’s mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. During the performance, the emcees inform the audience that Shen Yun cannot be seen in China, and Mr. Murton expressed his wish for Shen Yun to be able to perform in China one day. He also said that he tries to play his part in bringing awareness to the events happening in China by telling the people around him to see Shen Yun.
“I just try to get more people to come and see this (Shen Yun), and I tell people about the things I know that go on in China,” said Mr. Murton. “I don’t know how that helps the Chinese people exactly … but it’s better than being quiet about it.”
According to the Shen Yun website, traditional Chinese culture was deeply rooted in spirituality, and China was once known as “the Land of the Divine.” This was all abolished by the atheist communist government. A return to tradition would therefore mean a reconnection with those spiritual elements, which Mr. Muton felt was important to more than just the Chinese people.
“Everything they (Shen Yun) do is very beautiful,” he said.
“Everything they said—the whole message of the need for a world to have a reintroduction to the divine and to walk away from all these things that basically mean that we as people don’t mean anything, [that] we’re just some big accident, are floating around the universe, it’s not true. And so, the message that this show brings is extremely counter-cultural, in the United States more and more so, all over the world I think more and more so, and it’s exactly what the world needs.”
Reporting by Yawen Hung and Wandi Zhu.
The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.