Shen Yun

9 Nov

SHEN Yun is promoted as a celebration of traditional Chinese culture through dance and music.

A large ensemble of dancers wielding fans, handkerchiefs, spears and flowing sleeves demonstrate the elegance of Chinese classical dance with the precision of classical ballet.

However, an unsuspecting patron might be surprised by the political wallop that Shen Yun delivers from halfway through the first act.

Although it is barely mentioned in the marketing material, Shen Yun is presented by the Falun Dafa Association of Victoria. A protest against China’s communist government, the evening relies heavily on the cultivation theories of the spiritual movement.

Twice, the New York-based company portrays the bludgeoning of Falun Gong practitioners by communist soldiers.

Baritone Qu Yue sings of the sinking Red Regime, Xiaochun Qi performs an erhu piece titled Saving the Predestined, and the words “Falun Dafa is good” are emblazoned triumphantly across a backdrop.

As the evening progresses past the two-hour mark, the message continues to overtake the dance, leaving uninitiated audience members feeling manipulated by an attempt at spiritual and political conversion dressed up as dance performance.

In choosing not to be frank about the purpose and the content of the production in its advertising material, Shen Yun Performing Arts has done itself a disservice, drawing attention away from the reasonably good dance and music.

Ultimately, adherents of Falun Gong will find their beliefs vindicated in Shen Yun, but others might feel distressed by the means this group uses to advocate its cause.

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