Shen Yun ‘Smart, interesting, and entertaining too,’ Says Philosophy Professor

January 23, 2015 Updated: January 23, 2015

TORONTO—Attending Shen Yun Performing Arts at the Sony Centre on Jan. 22, one of the things that interested Matthew Crippen the most about the classical Chinese dance production’s portrayal of the Middle Kingdom’s 5,000-year-old culture was the combination of the ancient with the modern.

Mr. Crippen is a philosophy professor at the American University in Cairo, and he said that in his work he too endeavours to connect the past with the present.

“I think the program was good because it mixed both ancient and contemporary,” he said. 

“[Shen Yun is] reviving lost Chinese traditions, and I think you want to connect them to the contemporary world because I think they are relevant, they remain relevant, and in order to show that they are relevant I think that it is good to connect them to contemporary issues going on in China.

“That was very smart, interesting, and entertaining too.”

He teaches philosophy that is 2,500 years old, and he said it’s still relevant. 

Shen Yun enacts legends and tales spanning from ancient times to the present day and brings them to stages around the world, depicting them through dance dramas. In order to enhance the telling of these stories, the performance company uses state-of-the-art digitally animated backdrops, an innovation in the world of dance pioneered by Shen Yun.

“The stories I liked. I thought the stories were very good,” Mr. Crippen said.

Principles like benevolence, propriety, divine retribution, and respect for the heavens were the essence of traditional culture, according to the Shen Yun website. These are among the values that originated from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism—disciplines that were at the heart of Chinese society for thousands of years.

“There’s all sorts of traditional values in the show,” said Mr. Crippen, adding that he also enjoyed Shen Yun’s East-meets-West orchestra, which masterfully blends two of the world’s greatest classical music traditions.

New York-based Shen Yun is a world-renowned classical Chinese dance and music company whose mission is to revive China’s traditional culture—believed by the ancients to have been bestowed by the heavens.

“I think it is a good mission,” said Mr. Crippen.

Reporting by Quincy Yu and Joan Delaney

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company will perform in Toronto until Jan. 25. For more information, visit

The 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.