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Shen Yun Chinese dancers at Cobb Energy Centre

shenyun1

A dancer performs with Shen Yun, a Chinese music and dance troupe that comes to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre this week.

Shen Yun Performing Art, a troupe of Chinese dancers and musicians, has been to Atlanta before, but only this time are they going for the mass market.

But a scathing opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun calls the production “creepy” and the backdrops “garish,” but mostly seems to have a problem with the show’s politics.

I haven’t seen it, but for those who’ve seen it in the past: is it as much spectacle as it the ubiquitous billboards say it is? Did the message matter more than the music and dance?

Here’s a promo video:

Want to go? Shen Yun performs. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16, 2 p.m. Jan. 17. $39-$12o. Cobb Energy Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2800, www.cobbenergycentre.com.

For instant update, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

21 comments Add your comment

Pam

March 30th, 2010
2:52 am

I saw this show this weekend on Saturday in Vancouver (March 2010). I really felt I had been scammed. I have had a huge interest in China, it’s history and culture for years , so this was meant to be a real treat for me. My partner and I paid $79 canadian for tickets and I was really looking forward to this, we also traveled to Vancouver, paid for a hotel room, so not a cheap weekend and meant to be really special.
To make a long story short, many of the songs, stories and dances were simply propaganda for the religion of Falun Dafa, there were only a very few pieces that were free of this message, and even those, whilst pretty enough, were not awe inspiring enough to compensate for what was clearly a scam, a money raising venture for this group. They were blatant propaganda, examples being a ‘dance’ (one of several) showing someone being killed by communist police whilst practising Falun Dafa, and being taken to heavan, atheists in one song were denounced as perverse, and the way to salvation was through this belief system. Much of the second half of this show was taken up with pretty much all propaganda for this religion, and it was about as subtle as a sledge hammer. At the end of the performance when the show cast were assembled on stage, before the lights had even come up, large numbers of the audience stood up and left the theatre, including ourselves. Those remaining started to give an ovation, my assumption was that they were adherants to this religion because there was no other reason that made sense, so many people left in disgust or perplexity.
What made me really frustrated was that I googled it (sadly too late to save myself any money) when I returned home, and found that all the reviews you can find generally come from something called the Echo Chronicle or something similar, which is sponsored by them, so only good reviews can be seen. It comes across as somewhat spooky, like a cult. Until I saw this show I had some sympathy for any group that is oppressed for what it believes, but they claim the high road and then rip people off with this show. My reason for writing is to prevent other people from being scammed by this group. I would have had no problem with this if it had been advertised fairly for what it was, I have no problem with seeing things as art or music that shock or challenge, I would happily engage in a discussion or read information about it, but this was straight forward dishonesty, selling propaganda as a wonderful, cultural experience. For anyone thinking of going, save your money, or at least go with your eyes wide open to the real agenda of this show , at least then you won’t be disapointed.

WRL

February 7th, 2010
10:09 am

Wow. Walked away from Saturday’s Hanover Theater performance of Shen Yun feeling a bit queasy with no doubt that this was the intent of the performance. The Shen Yun troupe delivered sharply divisive political rhetoric under the guise of cultural and historical entertainment.
With an unashamed and in your face Anti Communist-China message and direct promotion of Falun Dafa, a controversial cultural and religious movement, the performance left me thinking “What just Happened?” Like many must have, I went home and Googled-up after the show to find that this was more than meets the eye.
The first half of the performance was more subtle with slight references to the highly political message. Shen Yun camera crew waited in the lobby during intermission to collect feedback from viewers who were using words like “stunning” and “awesome” to describe the colorful, athletic and graceful performance of the Shen Yun dancers.
The second half of the One-Two punch came after the intermission when dancers acted out scenes of brutal communist violence against those practicing “Dafa”.
I understand Art having shock value is effective communication, but wonder if Shen Yun’s message might be tempered by its duplicitous advertising approach, using media hype and deception to lure its audience into delivering its message.
One of the main tenants of Falun Dafa is said to be truthfulness, yet I couldn’t help feeling that the troupe was hypocritical and deceitful in their approach which was straight out propaganda.
I forked over $150 for two tickets and unknowingly made a donation to a public movement. It’s not that I’m not a charitable guy; I just like to know where my donations are going beforehand. Shame on me for not pre-Googling. I was sort of curious that if the Playbill touted the political angle and message, they might be more successful and reach more people.

ChasL

January 25th, 2010
3:06 am

Gullible is how I would describe your situation here. This Falun Gong show has time and again received the “agiprop theater” news report. Not only London, Vancouver, check NYTimes, Chicago, pretty much everywhere they’ve played.

Dan

January 22nd, 2010
6:46 pm

How many seats are in the Cobb, 2,000 plus? It was mostly full at the end of the show. They were all Falun Gong adherents?

RJ

January 22nd, 2010
9:19 am

When those put off by the show have already left the theatre and all that remain are Falun Gong adherents, it is not a surprise that there was a standing ovation.

Dan

January 22nd, 2010
2:20 am

another thing… do audiences in Atlanta give standing ovations to every show as a matter of courtesy? Because last Friday Shen Yun got a proper standing ovations in Atlanta. Where I come from show’s almost never get a standing ovation. So prehaps it didn’t go over as badly as many people in this message board indicate.

Dan

January 22nd, 2010
1:57 am

I saw the show and thought it was great…. just about any show is going to have a philosophy or moral behind it right? I fail to see what is wrong with this show’s content, it was all about persevering through oppression, seeking the truth, being compassionate…. really outrageous stuff:) Actually, I found it quite moving.

[...] loved the performance, but commenters on Inside Access were upset by the Falun Gong politics of the show, “subtle as a taser shot to the [...]

RJ

January 21st, 2010
9:23 am

As a follow up on the Cobb Energy Centre response, if they contend the issue is “the sensitive content in certain sections of the show”, they are missing (or avoiding) the point. Virtually the entire program is imbued with the ideology of Falun Gong and approaches the status of an indoctrination session. (I won’t bother to reiterate the mediocrity of the performance itself.)

I, for one, will be on the lookout next year to see if they have included any additional information in their promotions. I have the sinking feeling it will be some lame “may not be suitable for younger children due to the graphic nature of certain scenes” disclaimer in very tiny print. I sincerely doubt they will just candidly state “this show promotes the ideology of Falun Gong”. Pity. Candor is so refreshing.

RJ

January 20th, 2010
10:09 pm

Well, I just revisited their website, and there is no information whatsoever regarding the presenting organizations included there: http://www.cobbenergycentre.com/shared/event_detail.aspx?EventID=3673952&WebLink=48B.13B2CA98

Further, while I am now aware that “Falun Dafa” is another name for “Falun Gong”, it would not have been clear previously that they were synonymous.

I’ll look forward to further disecting their statement in future posts. Thanks for sharing contacting them initially, and for sharing their response.