Shen Yun Restores a Lost Tradition on Stage

COLUMBUS, Ohio–Shen Yun Performing Arts touched the hearts of many in the audience at the Ohio Theatre’s full house, on April 15.

Mike Cooper a retired analyst for GM was deeply moved by what he saw during the performance. “I am particularly interested in the fact that they would state that one of the contemporary problems in China today was not being able to meditate openly.”

Mr. Cooper was referring to a peaceful meditation practice based on the principals of truthfulness-compassion-forbearance called Falun Gong that has been banned in China since 1999.

“I just thought, ‘Wow!’ how can people live like that, and then again, how can these people go back to China after they’ve said it” [in the show,] Mr. Cooper said.

Despite being the cultural source for the performance, China is no longer the same country that gave birth to the deeply spiritual tales Shen Yun draws upon for many of its story-based dances.

After over 60 years of official atheism and efforts to eradicate the country’s spiritual beliefs, most notably during the decade-long Cultural Revolution, China’s divinely-inspired traditional culture has been all but lost there.

And so it fell upon a group of overseas Chinese to create Shen Yun Performing Arts and make reviving that culture its founding mission. It’s a mission that requires systematic training and a pure heart, says Shen Yun’s website.

“It’s not like Tiananmen Square all over again,” said Mr. Cooper. “But it is a sort of protest. Apparently you are risking your life if you are protesting over there, and it makes me feel … sorry for them.”

Joyce Cooper, a registered nurse, also expressed how much she enjoyed the dances about contemporary issues, just as her husband did.

“I think that’s interesting that they bring it up as part of their dance and their music,” she said, referring to the dances pieces on Falun Gong. “It’s nice that they talk about their history, but for them to go into other things as well, I am just enjoying that so much.”

Alongside these dances, “Shen Yun weaves a wondrous tapestry of heavenly realms, ancient legends, and modern heroic tales, taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture,” according to the website.

“I think it’s just beautiful,” said Mrs. Cooper, referring to the performance overall. “The color is wonderful, the music is wonderful, and it’s educational too, because it talks about the history of China, so I am really enjoying it.”

Mrs. Cooper expressed her thoughts on the dancing in particular, “just beautiful, so colorful, and I am surprised when the dancers dance, you don’t hear their footsteps on the ground.”

“They just glide,” they both said in unison.

  Reporting by Valerie Avore and Benjamin Chasteen

New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.

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