Shen Yun Performing Arts

14 Nov

The Shen Yun Performing Arts show is a series of Chinese dances and performances, strung together with a common theme: “Falun Dafa is Good”.

Before I begin, I think it is only fair that readers know I was not keen on going to see a Chinese drama/ballet. My mother was in town for a few weeks, and did a major impulse purchase, buying tickets for all of us to go see a “Chinese ballet”. I was not happy and was in a very bad mood, so it is entirely possible that the negative reviews were slightly tinted by my negative mood.

The show is made up of segments. There were dance segments, some of which were very beautiful; there were short skits; historical narrations; and solo vocal performances. Having been to a couple of other Chinese shows, I was expecting a mind-blowing performance. Chinese acrobatics have always been spectacular, frankly I went in with high expectations.

The dances were good. Groups of women dressed in beautiful garments did their routines very evenly. The costumes were very well made, the fabric flowed perfectly to the music. Some routines had props like feathered fans and silk handkerchiefs. While the technical aspect of the routines seemed spot on, they just felt a bit empty to me. Almost like they were merely performing a routine, they did not put their hearts and souls into it.

The historical narrations and short skits revolved mostly around China’s history, but heavily influenced with something that resembled “hatred” for communism. Earlier in the show, the narrations were mostly historical, but slowly, I felt like I had entered a brainwashing session for Falun Dafa followers. The short skits started portraying Falun Dafa followers and how they were beaten and oppressed. Some of the skits were quite dark — a mother being beaten, a child being taken away, a man being kicked and beaten to the ground. I have no doubts that events like these actually happened, but I felt like a theater was not exactly the venue to re-enact it all. I also felt like I had been tricked. No where on the website does it mention Falun Dafa, all it says is it is Chinese Dance and Music.

After the intermission, most of the acts had something to do with Falun Dafa. One of them even had a man running around with a sign that read “Falun Dafa is good”. The backdrop, which was a digital screen, would have something to do with Falun Dafa. No offense to Dafa followers, but I did not just pay almost $100.00 to see your propaganda on how you were oppressed and how it is good. If I wanted to learn more about it, all I had to do was drive down Granville Street.

As for the digital backdrop. One word to describe it: Cheesy. There were scenes where monks and Chinese fairies would fly off into the distance, or fly into the foreground, and suddenly, a performer dressed in exactly the same costume as the digital image would appear. It took a lot for me to not burst out in laughter (I did not want to offend anybody or get thrown out of the theater).

Finally, there were the hosts. A man and a woman appeared between sets to introduce certain scenes or segments. Their delivery was flawless, but almost too flawless. Similar to the dancers, they knew their lines, they knew what to do, but it was all so rehearsed. It just came across as being so fake. I do think that Chinese drama is somewhat overdramatized on purpose, but regardless, it was not my cup of tea. My bad mood had turned into a headache.

By the end of the show, when the mother was reunited with her daughter after being beaten then rescued by the monks and fairies, I was ready to leave. The man with the “Falun Dafa is Good” sign was back. I have nothing against the Falun Dafa, I just did not appreciate how they used a show as a cover for their propaganda. I went in thinking I was going to see a show filled with beautiful Chinese music and dance, not a show that was trying to brainwash me into believing that Dafa was good.

I do not recommend this show to anybody, really, unless you are a follower of Dafa or are highly interested in it.

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