QUEBEC CITY, Canada–As soon as veteran journalist Benoit Duguay saw the advertisements for Shen Yun Performing Arts, he knew he had to go.
So in the dead of winter, Mr. Duguay and his wife, Rose-Marie, drove the 600 km from Moncton, New Brunswick, to Quebec City to see the famed classical Chinese dance and music company at Grand Théâtre de Québec.
“I was stunned,” he said after the Jan.13 performance. “It’s beautiful, artistic–truly excellent. I loved everything.”
“We were enchanted,” added Mrs. Duguay.
Mr. Duguay was a journalist for 30 years, primarily at CBC Radio-Canada, before his retirement in 1997. He was also a journalism professor at the University of Moncton in New Brunswick, and is the author of “Vers le Pôle Nord magnétique,” an adaptation of explorer Marc Fafard’s diary on his walk to the North Pole.
He was surprised how easy it was to relate to the traditional Chinese culture displayed through classical Chinese dance and music. The universality and accessibility of the art form drew him in, he said.
“It was a treat for us, because even if it makes us go beyond ourselves, it doesn’t give us the feeling we are outsiders,” he said.
“They do not lose us—they don’t give us a culture shock. We find ourselves in our own culture, but we are also part of theirs. I loved it very much.”
New York-based Shen Yun is on a mission to revive 5,000 years of divinely inspired culture through classical Chinese art forms—namely story-based classical Chinese dance and Chinese folk and ethnic dance. This rich culture was largely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and decades of suppression by the Chinese communist regime, says the Shen Yun website.
Mrs. Duguay, a professor in the Department of Education at the University of Moncton, was inspired by Shen Yun’s rich stories and legends drawn from antiquity.
“I loved discovering the myths and legends–I didn’t know them at all,” she said.
“This gave me the wish to go further, to perhaps go to the university library to learn, to discover the Chinese [culture].”
Mr. Duguay was also moved by two stories from contemporary China, which detail human rights abuses at the hands of the Chinese communist regime.
“It was sad, it was powerful, it made you cry,” he said of a dance titled “The Power of Compassion,” in which a young man who was being persecuted for his faith in the spiritual practice of Falun Dafa turned back to give help to a police officer who was attacking him and attempting to arrest him.
“Very powerful, emotional moments,” Mr. Duguay said.
“That was very touching. I almost had goose bumps,” added Mrs. Duguay.
The dancers’ ability to express emotion through movement was very effective, said Mrs. Duguay.
“The dance was very well done. What was wonderful was their facial expressions during in the dance,” she said.
“I loved their elegance and their technique,” added Mr. Duguay.
Ultimately the performance imparts a sense of hope for the future, said Mr. Duguay, and hope for a return to China’s glorious culture.
“What they teach us, what they tell us is that there is compassion and tolerance, and that China is heading toward a new era,” he said.
Reporting by Nathalie Dieul and Justina Wheale
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company will continue on to Mississauga and Toronto after one more performance in Quebec City on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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.