Security Policy Expert: ‘Chinese dance seems to defy gravity in many ways’

January 22, 2010 Updated: January 28, 2019

WASHINGTON—Shen Yun wrapped up it’s fourth show of a seven-show run at the Kennedy Center Opera House on January 22.

Washington resident Dr. Dieter Dettke attended the show. He saw the “great” (as he described it) performance as bridging East and West:

“That was indeed interesting for me, too, because [the show] seems to be a bridge between Western and Chinese culture in music, and maybe even in other areas too. I guess we could all use a little more Buddhism and Christianity in our thoughts and in our behavior, and any effort in that area I do applaud.”

The Shen Yun Orchestra is comprised of both Western classical and Chinese instruments, and the vocal artists, all singing in Chinese and largely trained in China, sing in the Bel Canto style, a Western style.

Dr. Dieter Dettke is a specialist in foreign and security policy, having authored numerous publications on European and U.S. security issues. For 20 years he was the U.S. Executive Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, dedicated to supporting students of outstanding intellectual ability. Currently Dr. Dettke is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies. He is interested, he told this reporter, in seeing different cultures work together to build a common, better future.

“That’s probably a larger theme, to find out the possibility of a greater integration. We talk economically about globalization, and the issue really is to look out for cultural ties. We would probably remember Sam Huntington’s book, about the clash of civilizations. I don’t want to see that in our future—a deterministic clash. I think there is more we have in common than what divides us; that, I think, needs to be emphasized. The show tonight worked a little bit in that direction. If that’s the purpose, I would fully support it!”

Dr. Dettke was also captivated by the Shen Yun dancers. “Chinese dance seems to defy gravity in many ways,” he enthused.

“And that’s something I guess that’s very unique and—but very common in Chinese culture, isn’t it?—to perform in a way that makes you believe that everything is gliding and not really walking,” he said referencing the unique classical stepping technique that female Chinese dancers use, creating the sense they are floating.

Asked to briefly describe the show, Dr. Dettke said:

“It’s a presentation … of traditional Chinese culture to a Western audience … speaking on behalf of Falun Gong. I think the Chinese make a big mistake in persecuting, prosecuting and putting pressure on Falun Gong; I think [Falun Gong] should be recognized, and they should have the necessary freedom to act with.”

“[Shen Yun] was a good effort of bringing music, dance, and philosophy, in many ways, together. A genuine effort to integrate things,” he declared.

Shen Yun Performing Arts New York Company will perform in Washington, D.C. from Jan. 19-24.

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