LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Dr. Daniel Egbe and his wife Yen Egbe have come to see Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company at the Robinson Center Music Hall for three years in a row. “We enjoyed the previous two shows so we just decided to keep the tradition going,” said Dr. Egbe, who teaches at historically Black Philander Smith College in Little Rock. The couples’ friend, Daniel Kirkpatrick, laughed and said, “I invited myself.”
Each year Shen Yun creates a completely new show, according to master of ceremonies Leeshai Lemish. This year’s show opens with An Era Begins, in which a regiment of celestial soldiers prepare for a battle between good and evil, according to the program.
Mr. Kirkpatrick is a minister from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Dr. Egbe is an associate professor and department chair of the political science department.
The two men mused about the contemporary history in the show, in the dances The Choice, and The Dafa Practitioners’ Magical Encounter. In The Choice, Falun Dafa practitioners are brutally beaten by police on Tiananmen Square,” according to the program.
Goodness ultimately triumphs.
Mr. Kirkpatrick said he saw a “theme of freedom,” but he had learned from Mrs. Egbe, who is Chinese, that people are not allowed to see Shen Yun “in mainland China but they could see it in Taiwan.” He was baffled by the reasoning behind the restrictions, and said, “Why would a political government not allow the people to see their own heritage? To me that’s incredible.”
Shen Yun has said in past programs that it intends to revive the true traditional Chinese culture, which was damaged during the rule of the communist party. “We believe that this rich heritage is a precious gift worth keeping, and worth sharing with all of you,” according to the 2012 program book.
“Fear of truth, fear of truth,” said Dr. Egbe, speaking of the persecution of Falun Dafa followers in China. To him, “It’s just this dichotomy between the spiritual and the physical realm you know, that really strikes me.”
The group not only found deeper meaning in the dances, they found enjoyment, education and fun. Mr. Kirkpatrick said the show “is outstanding; we had our own interpreter here (Mrs. Egbe) I could just see it as a distillation of Chinese culture and arts, a great experience.” He has two children a son in ninth grade and a daughter in eight grade, and plans to bring them to see next year’s show. “We will look forward to next year,” he said.
“The choreography is wonderful,” said Dr. Egbe. He wondered where such excellent choreographers had been found, he said. He also loved the costumes and scenery, because, “Everything’s colorful, the dresses catch the eye.”
Shen Yun Performing Arts, based in New York, tours the world on a mission to revive traditional Chinese culture. Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company will perform at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina, on March 1.
For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org.