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Surprised by the politics in shows like Shen Yun?

ShenYun12(2) (Small)

At Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, Chinese performnace troupe Shen Yun featured drummers, dancers and propaganda that surprised some audiences. Some were OK with the message, but some were offended.

In the days since Shen Yun Performing Arts, the Chinese drum and dance troupe, left Atlanta to move onto the next stop on its perpetual tour, conversation continued to rumble about the shows they’d performed at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Some 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 noggin,” the AJC review said. It’s not that commenters necessarily disagree or deny that persecution has taken place in China. They were surprised to see it — especially a few violent scenes,  one involving a taser and another where a mother and child are beaten — in a show promoted as a music-and-acrobatic spectacular

Wrote Marilee Coughlin:

While the dancers are fabulous, and the costumes are gorgeous, I felt like I was at a revival or brain-washing session. … it was billed as a family show, but I question whether children should see a show where a mother and child are beaten by black-shirted men and the mother dragged off stage, apparently dead – then on the garish screen, she can be seen “ascending” accompanied by monks. Creepy sums up parts of the show quite well.

Local Falun Gong groups sponsored the show, but people I’ve heard from said it wasn’t adequate warning that politics might enter into a performance touted as family friendly. The show has taken a drubbing in international press, but AJCer Howard Pousner talked with several audience members who weren’t offended by the message, but they weren’t expecting it either. (You can read his entire story, “Many Atlantans OK with Chinese dance trouple’s politics.”) Several said they were fine with it: they wanted to know the other side of the story.

Here’s what another commenter, KJ, had to say:

My recommendation for the show’s creators.. [sic] If you want to focus on the message and political struggle, do it. The world would write rave reviews about a play or show that took an issue straight on. You probably couldn’t do the show in China or that would be the last show, but I believe the rest of the world prefers an “in your face” approach. State your message and stir it up.

I asked for a response from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre’s PR agency, and received this statement from J. Barkley Russell on behalf of the local presenting organizations, not Cobb Energy Centre itself:

On behalf of the presenting organizations, we acknowledge the concerns expressed by some attendees at the Shen Yun performances regarding the sensitive content in certain sections of the show. As in years past, our brochures, window posters, website and press releases disclosed the show’s presenting organizations, New Times Cultural and Education Center, Inc. (NTCEC) and the Southeast US Falun Dafa Association—they have presented the show since it began appearing in Atlanta, four years ago.

In the future we will consider adding information to our materials that references the show’s content. We hope this has addressed your concerns.

I didn’t see this show, but in the commercials, billboards, and even the press materials, I didn’t see anything explicit about the show’s point of view, except for a passing reference about Chinese traditions before Communism.

On my own, I would have stayed to watch. Reporterly curiosity means I sit through a lot of things the surprise me, whether they delight or horrify. But it’s entirely different to see a show for work than to see a show with friends or family.

I wonder how common an experience this is. The closest situation I can recall is an early screening of “Million Dollar Baby.” The the mood in the theater changed as the movie became less about boxing and more about — surprise! — assisted suicide.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience on this. Have you been surprised or offended by an unexpected political message in art, whether on stage, in the movies or elsewhere? What responsibility do organizations and venues have to tell audiences beforehand? Should audiences be expected to do their own digging?

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

79 comments Add your comment

Jenn

January 21st, 2010
3:01 pm

Million Dollar Baby is a good comparison–if you just look at Shen Yun’s website, you won’t come away with the impression that you’ll witness a persecution scene.

I saw it with my daughter (5); the political/religious content didn’t offend me. She loved the costumes & dancing, and I enjoyed that aspect, too. I’m not the type that would suddenly change my political/religious beliefs based on one performance, and I didn’t feel that they were indoctrinating me into the faith–though I could have done without the “encore”.

Had I done even a cursory search for the show on Google, I would have found the info I needed to make an informed choice on page 1 of the search results for “shen yun”. Above the fold, there’s a link to the Wikipedia page (good sources, balanced piece): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shen_Yun_Performing_Arts . And that page links to one about Falun Dafa/Gong: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falun_Gong .

Just below the fold on the search results page, you’ll find the link to the “propaganda as entertainment” article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/dance/3671451/Shen-Yun-Propaganda-as-entertainment.html .

And as for whether Falun Dafa/Gong is a cult or a religion and whether Shen Yun supports/is tied to that group, to be honest, I don’t care. People believe some wacky stuff in this world, some of which makes it on stage/in movies/in books, etc. That’s just the nature of art.

I’m more offended by the fact that religious persecution still goes on in China. Even established religions that are “allowed” to be practiced in China are still censored by the government–Chinese catholics cannot be taught some of tenets of the faith, for instance. FWIW.

74 Dawg

January 21st, 2010
3:23 pm

What about the politics (and political correctness) in many Hollywood Offerings? Should theaters put a disclosure out front on every George Cluny or Oliver Stone movie?

lmno

January 21st, 2010
3:30 pm

People suck. Thank god for political messages in entertainment. At times, they have changed the world. I like it when a singer sings about an issue. And I would like this too.

BTW, that girl in the pic is
beautiful.

RJ

January 21st, 2010
3:45 pm

There is a significant difference between going to a movie that ends up having an unexpected subplot and attending a performance that touts to be a celebration of Chinese culture but, in actuality, is a pretext to subject individuals to a quasi-religious ideology. The latter is kind of like going to hear about a great vacation opportunity only to realize you’re captive to a time-share condo sales pitch.

As stated previously (on the Inside Access blog referenced above), virtually the entire Shen Yun performance to which my wife and I were subjected last Friday was imbued with Falun Gong ideology. Also noted was the reaction of a professional theatre critic for the Telegraph in London who called it “propaganda as entertainment”. Others commentors expressed the same sense of betrayal upon realizing the true nature of the program. This is not one man’s humble opinion.

The performance itself was mediocre at best. Yet this is not a surprise given the main purpose of this group is to serve as a vehicle to surreptitiously propagate their “message”. One wonders why they are not forth-coming as to their intent given the alienation that ensues when audience members realize they’ve been duped– much less paying for the privilege.

Art in all forms has always served to challenge, provoke, advocate, and inspire. When it is done well– whether or not the goal is popular– it has served that purpose. When, on the other hand, individuals are beguiled as to the substance of a performance, it ceases to be art. It is pure deception.

hugo

January 21st, 2010
6:42 pm

Shen Jun was amazing. I rec reading at least the Lunya, or first intro in the book of Falan Dafa, (It can be read free on line on the falun dafa website) prior as it will give you some insight into the complex symbolism and traditional underpinnings of the dances, music and vocals. Ignore the opinionated rantings and see this for what it is….creative, heart warming and truthful. There are some scenes showing symbolic violence that has been well documented world wide over the past 10 years or so. These scenes are certainly not graphic and evoke compassion in the viewer.
Any child of any age has been exposed to much more upsetting stuff on a typical episode of Sponge Bob. It gave us an opportunity to talk with our kids about what freedom and respect religion has here in America. Chines history is wrought with violence and oppression of women and children and of spiritual practices. This show was a great place to start teaching our children about the realities of communism in China, and the need to always protect our rights here in the States.

RJ

January 21st, 2010
8:29 pm

Hugo, rather than defending Falun Gong– which is not under attack here– why not address the issue at hand: should Shen Yun be allowed to purposely deceive individuals about the content and purpose of the show? I think not.

Let there be a truthful, candid acknowledgement of the purpose of the show before individuals buy tickets. Shen Yun wants to promote Falun Gong. Great! Just disclose that ahead of time.

Dan

January 22nd, 2010
1:47 am

I saw Shen Yun, and wouldn’t call the message “political”, fundamentally it was more of an uplifting humanistic message. Depicting a person persevering in their faith, even in the face of deadly oppression, and then going to heaven highlights a very basic moral theme across different religions and ethnic backgrounds. It is actually a hopeful message and one that is necessary for people. If everyone caved under pressure from immoral powers, it wouldn’t be long before people didn’t know the difference between right and wrong, that’s especially the case for people living under a dictatorship. This scene in Shen Yun wasn’t depicted with gore or fake blood or bad language, just with classical dance and classical music, so how could that be offensive? What’s more this scenario really does play out in China for thousands of people of different religious or political beliefs, people persevere in their beliefs in the face of a cruel torture and murder there on a daily basis, this is exposed over and over again by different human rights organizations, its not something made up. Isn’t that what is truly offensive? If everyone were as offended as they should be by that, its quite possible Falun Gong would not put so much or even any effort into raising awareness on this issue. Is this issue subjective?

Scott

January 22nd, 2010
7:50 am

To be honest, I don’t see what the confusion is here. When I think of Shen Yun my first thought is of the triumph of the human spirit. Even the Shen Yun website lists this as a main focus. “The human spirit triumphs over adversity in powerful, thought-provoking dances” is written very plainly for all to see even on the link from the story above. Any individual with even the slightest knowlege of the persecution and human rights issues within China’s borders would not be shocked but would applaud Shen Yun performances. Sure, they are making a statement with the performance, but I tend to disagree with people who are surprised and feel it was misplaced politicism. This show is, as it is billed — Classical Chinese dance and music with state of the art digital animations and scenery combined to depict an ispiring journey of human triumph over adversity with themes of kindness, compassion and courage. You can’t get any more straight forward than that.

Furthermore, I would like to write briefly on the violence topic. I do not feel there are any inappropriate moments in the show for younger audiences. My 6 year old son has seen Shen Yun and I did as any parent should do… use the scenes that show persecution with physical violence as a learning moment. The triumph of the human spirit is not with a sword or gun but rather with peaceful demonstration. Did Martin Luther King, Jr. ever carry a gun during a march? No. Throughout history we can see several instances where man has triumphed over persecution through compassion and grace. No matter what your religious or political views this point resonates throughout the perfomance.

Thank you Shen Yun!

RJ

January 22nd, 2010
8:26 am

It is unfortunate (as well as instructive) that no one seems willing to address the issue I raised. Rather, the thread is being hijacked by those who either practice or are sympathetic to Falun Gong in an effort to steer us toward a discussion of the merits of the movement.

It is a common tactic of such groups to put forth this twisted syllogism: “Persecution is not valid. We are persecuted. Therefore, our ideology is valid.” Further, anyone who has the audacity to question any aspect of the movement is lumped together with its persecutors.

For the record, oppression is bad. So is deception. Shen Yun evidently wants to cruise silently, like a U-boat, through theaters across the world, only to surface and make its intentions known at the raising of the curtain. Please do not feign surprise that anyone should object to such subterfuge.

Dane

January 22nd, 2010
6:39 pm

RJ, half of my above post was being sympathetic towards Falun Gong, you’re right. But, the other half delt with the issue you raised. You ask if it’s appropriate to deceive the audience in a marketing campaign. I agree that isn’t appropriate but I don’t believe the audience was deceived in this show. I think the message was more humanist that political. I didn’t think the show asked people to engage in controversial subject matter, like Million Dollar Baby, because the themes in the show were more about universal values, not controversial political issues, that’s all.

MC

January 22nd, 2010
8:06 pm

Dudes… It’s a show about China… China in the past, and China now… and it turns out they do that in China now… that’s China… propaganda lol, you guys should go see a show from the mainland…

AK-47

January 22nd, 2010
11:11 pm

My question is how Shen Yun managed to book Kennedy Center? Their performance is mediocre at best. Silly slides, garish clothes, plus the religious propaganda. I felt the urge to leave after the first 15 minutes.

NJ

January 23rd, 2010
7:38 pm

My fellow Americans, let us remind each other about the greatness of America
1. In God We Trust.
2. Freedom and democracy.

The beauty of Shen Yun is its spirituality – underlying its exquisite performances – incorporating exceptional singing, dancing and costumes.

Human spirituality is universal, whether governments recognize this or not. Human spirituality is not political or religious; It is universal.

“Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance” are, as well, universal principles. They are transcendant principles. Thus, I don’t believe that Shen Yun has any religious propaganda.

Shen Yun reminds us and our children not to take our freedom and democracy for granted. There are people in China facing torture and death in prison because of their faith in simple universal principles.

Shen Yun is great education for all of us. There is no deception but full of great surprises!!!
====================================================

RJ

January 23rd, 2010
10:59 pm

@NJ,

Shen Yun could demonstrate a little “truthfulness” by letting folks know before they buy tickets that their performance is imbued with Falun Gong ideology. Alas, they seem unwilling to be candid about the intent of the program. Truthfulness, good. Deception, bad.

Eric

January 24th, 2010
10:59 am

The show was and as in all the other years, similar and fabulous.The costumes were perfect in even the political and violent moments,and with the perfect backdrops,showed exactly in true life,what life is about.I actucally thought I was in China ,witnessing it.It is absolutely correct to show the truth,the good and the bad,and what life is about.The show ,I thought was real educational,and great for kids,to learn about Chinese,and the idea of other cultures.

NJ

January 24th, 2010
3:12 pm

RJ,

“Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance” are universal principles. They are transcendant principles. They have been taught in all religions and secular societies for the past 3-5,000 years around the world.

If mankind understands all divine teachings in an accurate way, it is not difficult to figure out that religions should unite us, instead of dividing us. It is mankind’s shallow understanding of divine teachings, which causes fights among religious ideology.

Note that we, as US citizens, have freedom to go to see Shen Yun, while Chinese citizens, who purchased Shen Yun tickets in HK, have been blocked from seeing the performances. Chinese citizens have been harassed and threatened by Chinese policemen, who have forced them to hand over the Shen Yun tickets which they had purchased. Chinese citizens have had their homes ransacked by Chinese policemen searching for Shen Yun tickets. What a great real life lesson for our children to learn about – freedom vs. oppression?

In addition, Shen Yun is advertised and billed as Classical Chinese Music and Dance. It is presented throughout the whoe program as Classical Chinese Music and Dance with focus on the strength of human spirituality.

The two Falun Gong dances (out of 15 other Classical Chinese dances) beautifully presents that Chinese people are not willing to give up their faith when confronting evil and horror.

As we all know, good will defeat evil in the end!!

SW

January 25th, 2010
2:13 am

Mislead? Yes. Actually, it was more like being ambushed. This show was advertised as entertainment. A young child and its mother being beaten with clubs by 4 grown men or later having the same 4 men taser an unarmed man, just didn’t seem entertaining to me. Although the swirling dancers in their beautifully colored costumes were a feast for the eyes, this show should have been labeled PG-13.

Chas

January 25th, 2010
3:09 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.

Chas

January 25th, 2010
3:14 am

And a FYI, all the places that raves about the show like Epoch Times, are Falun Gong propaganda, um, media outets.

RJ

January 25th, 2010
8:14 am

@Chas

Yep, I feel pretty stupid for being blind-sided by this group. Have no problem with those who want to use “art” to make a statement– political, religious, or otherwise– but it is downright deceptive not to apprise potential ticket buyers in advance what to expect. (Of course, they wouldn’t sell as many tickets, so they continue to hide the purpose of the show.) I found the negative reviews after the fact.

Interesting note on the raves. After the fact, I did a quick search on the fab exclamations included in their brochure. Was not able to find a single reference to Shen Yun in any of the sites which supposedly praised the program. Was giving them the benefit of the doubt until I saw your message. Now we can add false advertising to their list of offences. Somehow doesn’t engender much good will for this crew.

cyrus

January 25th, 2010
3:12 pm

Geat show,family, I and many of my friends and colleages have seen Shen Yun Peforming Arts, they loved it. To sum up the Show, about 100 performers, about 40 orchestra members and many dancers with a beautiful backdrop depicing Chinese History, Culture and Spirituality through dance, music and song. Falun Dafa covers the Buddhist and Taoist aspects of the spirituality that has made flourshihed in China for almost 2500 years. And out of the 20 scenes, 2 portray the stoy of persecution of the Chinese Communist Government.

Totally, a wonderful show, you see history, culture, human rigths and deep meaning to life with the spiritual components. I read all the posts, RJand Chas, have written a lot and seemed to have twisted the truth, it appears they may be actually one of the many Chinese Spys or tools of the government that try to defame this beautiful show and prevent people from knowing the truth, the Persecution of Falun Dafa.

my friends loved, and the show has received great reviews all over the world. I have never seen a show with this much heart, love, skill, depth, meaning, goodness, and beauty. If you see it, you will be touched by its wonderful colors, skill, and Compassion that you can feel from the performers and their moves, it remarkeable.

RJ

January 25th, 2010
3:57 pm

@Cyrus

I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but never a Chinese Spy. (Strange gig for a guy who is half-Irish.)

Your paranoia is exceeded only by how loudly I laughed when I read your comment.

cyrus

January 25th, 2010
4:18 pm

@RJ,an Irish Man would be proud of a show like this, with a spirit to never give up on what you believe. I hope you could value that spirit in the show, instead of bashing this beautiful show for the past 3 days. There were 2,000 people in the audience in San Diego, and all gave a standing ovation. There were some even in tears. Finally, to make a point, everything we hear and see is constantly giving us a message, at least Shen Yun’s Message is one of hope. Even in their fliers they say that the show is “independent of the China’s Regime” and it seeks to revive traditional Chinese Culture.

To add to it, there are about 1 Million people in concentration camps in China. Stop bashing this show, and stop doing things to support the Chinese Government’s brutality, rape, murder and slavery of their own citizens. If you take a look at the shows throughout human history, they always depict good and evil and a story of good truimphing over evil cruel people. And this show like many others has some of this, along with a lot of entertainment.

cyrus

January 25th, 2010
4:22 pm

@RJ, Maybe you could find that Irish Man in you, the man with a pure and courages heart. One who supports the human spirit.

RJ

January 25th, 2010
10:31 pm

@Cyrus

Wipe the tears out of your eyes and read what I said. Shen Yun can promote Falun Gong every day until Jesus comes, and I don’t care.

What I object to is the show is being promoted on false pretenses, as a celebration when, in actuality, it is indoctrination.

(True, I did say it was a mediocre performance, but at least I was telling the truth. The promoters of Shen Yun appear to be incapable of the same.)

NJ

January 26th, 2010
12:09 am

@RJ

Obviously, you need to continue to grow your human spirituality. Hopefully, the following messages, from “Mary’s Message to the World” published in 1991, will give you some advice.

“….I, Mary, Mother of Jesus, am alive and concerned for you. My message is to the whole globe and not only to church members. Listen and pay attention to my words sent through this soul (Annie).
Each individual living on earth will have some trials and tribulations to endure, and since these will be worldwide events, I wish to reach as many people as possible….There is only one place to find Him, OUR CREATOR, and that is in your heart and your mind. Make peace with yourself and seek to find God in your heart and mind. Return to the origin of all. Return to your original starting point-God. We all have this in common, that each of us originated in God….The time is drawing near when you will be shaken and frightened….The earth will shake and be moved by violent forces which will cause many to lose their physical lives…The real tragedy during this time would be to lose one’s spiritual growth…..My desire is to warn you of the coming trying times. I wish for you to turn to God in your hearts and through your minds, for in this way some of you will survive these catastrophic events by renewing your spiritual values…..Prepare to judge yourself and make amends for your prejudices, intolerances, fears, envy, animosity and false pride. These are the errors of the flesh…..Send thoughts of love to ALL PEOPLE on earth….Do not allow countries, religions, or anything to keep you from sending out the LOVE of GOD. It is only by love, prayer and meditation that you will be safe…..This is not punishment, but the effect of centuries of hatred, anger and fear…”

RJ, as a Christian, continue to read your Bible and continue to give love. FYI: Gao Zhisheng, a rightous Christian Chinese Attorney, who speaks up for injustice persecution of Chinese Falun Gong practioners, were being arrested, tortured and imprisoned by Chinese government. And do not forget early Christians were being persecuted by Romans in the same way 2000 years ago!!

Chas

January 26th, 2010
12:12 am

RJ, the “Chinese spy” bit is pretty much the standard retort from Falun Gong disciples. Time and again the show has hidden it’s affiliation with Falun Gong.

SW-CRY

January 26th, 2010
12:53 am

@SW and @Chas,

Perhaps, both of you are highly aware of the outcome of being Chinese Spy overseas or perhaps you are physically in China. If you are physically in US, please make sure to follow the Law of the US. Lying, killing innocent citizens, and slandering are allowed by Communist governments throughout the world for the past 100 years, but these are not allowed in free/democratic society like US.

In addition, Ancient Jews says that “Do not allow evil slip through your lips and tongues.” The Bible says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and you will eat the fruit thereof.”

Cyrus

January 26th, 2010
4:27 am

RJ, There is indoctrination in everything you hear and listen at a subliminal level, from the music and videos you watch.. They constantly fill and upload your hard drive making you have the thoughts and feelings you do, etc. At least Shen Yun is upfront and simply speaks of universal principals of Truth and Compassion, with the use of Traditional Chinese culture and history in Dance and music, how upfront and more honest can you be than that, I am done trying to convince you, for your arguments are not rational and are emotionally filled with some disdain, there is no point to try to convince you to see the goodness of the show. Good luck with life, and thanks for the chat. Your response was amusing “wipe the tears off your eyes”Lol,thanks, but seriously it is a great show with a great message, with a classical taste. Chas, what ever the Chinese government is paying you, it’s not worth your life.

Take Care Everyone, and I am looking forward to seeing the show next year. Everyone has a right to their opinion, But Chas, I am sure you are a spy for the Chinese Government, and I hope you quit soon before the CCP collapses and you have to face war crimes for aiding this ruthless regime at the War Crimes Counsel of Genocide in the few years. Seriously quit, its bad luck for your family too.

Luna WANG

January 26th, 2010
2:37 pm

Chinese traditional culture has always been very appealing. Those who are affected by Shen-Yun(mostly becouse of the costumes, background and sacred atomasphere) are understandble. But if you DO interested in Chinese classical dance, I suggest you go and see a genuine performance given by Chinese who REALLY love dancing and have been educated in a proper dance school. I do not care if there is a political or religious content in Shen-Yun at all. But I cannot accept if someone says ‘Shen-Yun is real Chinese thing’. FaLunGong, could you please just separate polical struggle from art, history and Chinese culture. I can tell how inferior the show is compared to the real thing. I feel so disgraced seeing it.

Northern Californian

January 26th, 2010
5:05 pm

I saw this show in Northern California, and was so appalled that I asked for (and did not get) my money back. The people in here who are referring to the “state of the art graphics” wouldn’t know state of the art graphics if they walked up and introduced themselves. How many ways did the coreographer figure out to line up 6 lines of 3 dancers, then twirl clockwise?

Falun Gong sock-puppets who’ve gotten on to Yelp in SF, Sacramento Press, Vancouver Sun, UK Telegraph, et al, and made your comments… It takes a while to see it, but the words look canned.

This show was Falun Gong propoganda from the time the curtain first goes up, right up through the dozens of people walking out of each act, until the last time the curtain comes down. It’s shameless; it’s mediocre; and it’s false-advertising. I’ve seen better Chinese dancing for free.

“Before It’s News”, NTDTV, Epoch Times, Shen Yun and Falun Gong are all the same organization, and do NOT advertise what the show is actually about. Like others, that’s the part that bothers me most; the false-advertising.

And, I tell you, I want the Chinese government to fold. They DO torture. They DID run The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution. They SHOULD be out of business. We SHOULD NOT be unquestioningly be buying everything we can from China, because it’s so economical.

This government never adequately paid for The Great Leap Forward, and that’s good enough for me.

Northern Californian

January 26th, 2010
5:08 pm

Hear-hear, Luna Wang. You said it perfectly.

Northern Californian

January 26th, 2010
5:20 pm

Wow, Cyrus. You are comically over-the-top. It’s actually funny.

I’d wager whatever you name that RJ is not a Red.

I_Found_This_Link

January 26th, 2010
6:49 pm

I_Found_This_Link

January 26th, 2010
7:04 pm

Here is another link. I would rather to hear some comments from experts on Shen Yun:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbwmth_georgia-shen-yun-audience-yitys-ama_creation

Where is the truth?

January 26th, 2010
7:31 pm

After reading RJ’s message, I thought the theatre was half empty when the show was finished. I did some online search and found those videos. I don’t care who produced those but they are real person talking, and the theatre was almost full when the audience gave the standing ovation.

By definition, RJ is a liar.

ArtFreedomFan

January 26th, 2010
8:39 pm

The author of the article asks us:
Have you been surprised or offended by an unexpected political message in art, whether on stage, in the movies or elsewhere? My answer is no.

Our rights to freedom of speech in America mean that art has every right to show spectators what is happening in the real world, even though you may not have heard about for one reason or another. In this example it is the nature of Communism to disallow religious freedom, so that in and of itself is not news. Unfortunately people are getting tortured and killed over there, and that’s really unacceptable since China is a member of the U.N. and genocide is strictly forbidden by its members. That is news.

As a freedom loving American, I’m very sorry to those who are not comfortable with facing up to the fact that innocent people are getting killed for their beliefs. Especially when what those people believe in is as harmless as a doctrine of “be more compassionate, more truthful to yourself and others, and be more tolerant of others”. Even if you do not believe what they do, you must be willing to recognize their right to believe in it and speak up for it. That is what being American means.

RJ

January 26th, 2010
11:05 pm

@Where is the truth

Really incredible extrapolation from nothing to a definitive accusation. Never said the theatre was half empty. Have said a lot of substantive things which no one will address because they’re too busy changing the subject. Oh, come to think of it, that’s what you’re trying to do…

Mela Wu

January 26th, 2010
11:38 pm

Hello, Everybody,

I just want to share my experience and understanding with Shen Yun.

In my company, there are four people of different background have seen Shen Yun in the past, and they all loved it and bought the tickets to see it again this year. Plus all of the Chinese people in the company are going to see the show. Now with a branch of about 50 people, there are over 100 tickets sold! People loved the show so much and that is clear statement on the quality and contents of the show.

I am not sure why we need to be watching a show without a message. ALL great art production has a powerful message, and if the message is centered on universal values, then it has the best message. Besides, that is what the Chinese culture is all about, about values, about different messages. No stories would be passed along without a message.

Chinese culture is rooted in Falun Gong’s message of Truth Compassion and Tolerance, every traditional culture is as well, except the Chinese culture is older and more mystic.

In terms of the persecution, I think that is the climax of the show, it is the best part of the show. This part is what moves the people with conscience to tears and begin to question what could I do. This is not political. This is about LIFE, about ART inspired by life. It is Live art.

What is so political about raising awareness of Falun Gong being persecuted, raising awareness in such a gentle and beautiful way is the greatness of the artists.

Suspend for one moment of what is bothering us, and looking from another angle, you would see the real show. “With eyes, you could not see the Mount of Tai” this is a Chinese saying, about how people are not able to see the magnificence of the great mount of Tai though they have eyes.

For people who have missed it, I think it is time to notice the Mount of Tai by emptying the glass.

Good day.

Ying

January 27th, 2010
1:33 am

Can you Fa lun gong people jump off a cliff? Let me tell you who watches this show every year. People like my mom, who is a big fa lun gong follower, left her husband and daughter. She wants me to see the show in order to save my life, because if I don’t agree with her my family and I will die and perish forever. While it is easy for my mother to give up her family with the support of the cult, but it is not easy for me to give up the love for my mother. My parents were a loving couple before my mom placed this cult and its evil leader above her own self and her family. She believes what the evil master, Li Hong Zhi, says that her loyalty to him and the cult will benefit her family but in fact the fanatical behaviors of these fal lun gong maniacs have damaged she and our family entirely.

My mother has left us and now and spends much of her time meditating and selling tickets on the streets of L.A. She and the others who sell these tickets try to tell prospective customers that the tickets are to a Chinese cultural show. However, this is not the case at all.

I saw the dvd of this show. It’s nothing but FA LUN GONG. Yes, this is America which is a free country. If shen yun wants to mix art and cult together, they ought to better inform prospective audiences clearly about the show’s content. Stop lying!

Fa Lun Gong people, you could call me any names you want. I have experienced the heart breaking moments with mom. The pain you caused to my family is unrecoverable. And I know I’m not the only one. How about the woman worked in Intel. Divoced with her husband when her daughter was only few months old to follow the cult. Now the girl is 9 who has never seen her mom once!

Fa Lun Da Poop stop making false arguments: Cults tear families apart, while many religions teach harmony and family values. What you are offering to the public is a destructive way of life that will bring more harm to any society that embraces it.

Tysan Lerner

January 27th, 2010
6:23 am

Hello,
I do not know why your mother left your family, but I can tell you that my experience with Falun Gong has been the opposite. I am a divorced mother of two young children. My Ex left us when they were 2 and 4 years old. Since then, I have gotten re-married to a Falun Gong practitioner, like myself. We have been married for three years.

We both work hard to live according to the principals of truth, compassion, and tolerance, as taught to us in Falun Gong. We also work hard to try to live according to the principals we understand about being a good family member. We have the understanding that we should always think of others first, including those we are comfortable with. Therefore we have a very harmonious marriage life. It is very easy for us to resolve stressful situations when we turn to what Falun Gong has taught us. We understand that we should educate and raise our children well, and it is very clearly stated in Zhuan Falun that a practitioner should not be divorced because of Falun Gong.

I think that no one is perfect and that if someone follows a teaching that teaches them to live according to truth, compassion, and tolerance and then they act differently from what has been taught to them because of their own notions, excitement, etc. then that is their shortcoming and things may not work out very well for them and their loved ones due to their selfish actions. It does not make the teachings wrong.

As for Shen Yun. I am a professional dancer and having grown up in dance and the arts, I know that much dance and art has a very clear message. Look at Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham. They didn’t get incredibly famous by saying, “hey over here, I have a message!” They just came out with it. Many dance pieces have a message a story to tell. Shen Yun tells the story of Falun Gong, just as it tells stories of many historical figures of China. Plus, Shen Yun, as far as I have seen, is very open about its content addressing Falun Gong. It has no reason to hide it. Many of my friends and family (who are in all different fields, from TV production to Broadway production to sales and manufacturing to even a few NGOs) have gone to see Shen Yun and were incredibly happy to do so, often buying tickets for it in the following years. This has been my experience.

George

January 27th, 2010
6:38 am

It is difficult to convince someone, from my point view shen yun show is best show ever saw.

Lillian

January 27th, 2010
6:53 am

Ying: Where did you get the DVD? I searched up and down for it but could not get it anywhere — Shen Yun does not produce any DVD for their shows.

My family is from China too, I brought my mother who is in her seventies to see the show last year. She was in tears watching the show because she had never seen her own cultural being presented so beautifully. It made her feel really good and proud seeing so many people from so many different ethnic background responded so warmly towards the show too. She was very grateful to me for bought her the ticket (as a gift) and took her to the show.

I hence tried up and down for a DVD of show as another gift for my mom – I know she will be very pleased and couldn’t wait to see the smile on her face. But I could not find it. Shen Yun said that they do not produce DVD or even music CD for the show, and the local presenting companies said that they were not authorized to produce DVD either.
I would really appreciate a pointer from you.

Thanks!

By the way Ying, I did not see/hear Fa Lun Gong people calling you names, but seeing you calling them names in your message. Your mother, if she indeed become such a big fan for Fa Lun, (particularly with such strong opposing attitude besides her), must have her own reasons, right? If you indeed still love your mother, please consider not to call names to something she treasure like the way you did — that for sure would hurt her deeply.

If indeed people who watching the Shen Yun show are all big fa lun gong followers like you said, then wow! Fa Lun Gong is certainly more powerful and influential than I thought. :-)

Best regards.

Mela Wu

January 27th, 2010
8:06 am

Hello, Ying,
First of all, let me express my sorrow in reading your message posted here, I do feel your pain. The pain of having a family torn apart is certainly overwhelming, though these days there are a lot of families fall apart for various reasons and this can sometimes result in making a wrong association and false conclusion without any intention to do so.
Since you stated that you have not watched the show yourself and did watch a DVD, then I understand that you and I are not talking about the same show. The show Shen Yun is so pure, beautiful and powerful, for people who appreciate true art, it is a sure treat.
Is there a possibility that some more communication and more understanding could be extended to the person you love, to your mother. From the jumped conclusion about the show, I could see that there are possibly other issues could be misunderstood about Fa Lun Gong.
Just a thought to share.

Lillian

January 27th, 2010
8:48 am

I was eager to find a Shen Yun DVD as a gift for my mother, hence replied to Ying’s message first.

Now back to the original questions posted by the original article. My answer is:

I maybe surprised but won’t be offended as long as the message itself is good, and I won’t expect the producer or presenter to tell me everything, because it would be unnatural and destroy half (if not most) of the fun: do you expect the producer or presenter of “Lion King” to put in their ads “by the way, our message is human beings, you are destroying too much of the nature”? Or “Cinderella” show producers to put a statement “kindness and hard working will be rewarded, sincereness and beauty will win loving heart and happiness”? Messages are to be found, and every audience may find different messages unique to only them — that’s the experience of art (or entertainment).

Do you rather have the producer or presenter of a concert to tell you in their ads how great and powerful their singer or band is, how unique their design or music is, how cool their setting or costume is, how well audience responded to their tour, or you’d rather have the producer or presenter to tell you in their ads or promotional material that ” we sing about true love are hard to come by, treasure it when you have it; We miss our lost family and friends to the wars; We miss the greenness in our home town before… I weep for my true love, she left me for the richer …” ?

Unless it is a fund-raising event or benefit concert, I don’t expect that the tell-all, and won’t be offended but happily surprised with any good messages that I found — particularly good messages that echo to my heart, I would even take it as a bonus a gift. On the other hand, if the message is “killing is the way to get power and win”, yes I would be offended regardless if I was told ahead of time!

What is entertainment without any message anyway? Random sounds and random jumps? Yelling, noises, or aerobics?

If someone is so concerned of going into a show, a concert, a movie or any entertainment with any message, it is sure is their own responsibility to research – and even that, I am not sure if his/her research would give him/her the true picture, because experience of art and message in art is such an individual thing.

If someone is so close-minded about receiving any message via show, concert, movie – the so called “entertainment”, I am wondering what kind quality of entertainment he/she get to experience in life, and how many opportunities of experiencing some greatest surprises of joys, inspirations, and entertainment (yes, entertainment) he/she would lose in life?

Alice

January 27th, 2010
10:03 am

I’m surprised and a little disgusted that anyone would be so offended by the message in this performance. The dancing, choreography, costumes and music are beautiful, but equally important is the message portrayed. To want to suppress this is akin to the oppression and suppression the Chinese people have had to endure as long as their present form of government is in place. Thank God for their being in this country where there is still freedom of expression and religion.

The persecution of their religious ideals IS VERY MUCH a part of their TRUE history, and rather than criticize them for “spoiling” an otherwise pleasant experience, critics would do well to heed their message and learn something from it. On another level, it gives us all an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with our children regarding the lasting consequences from loss of freedom by politically corrupt and evil governments.

I for one applaud Shen Yun, not only for the quality of the show, but for their courage in telling a WHOLE story and not just one that would please the ever demanding political correctness crowd.

RJ

January 27th, 2010
11:23 am

@Alice

Missed it by that much…

The issue is not the message of the show. The issue I have consistently raised is the unwillingness of Shen Yun to plainly state that the show is a forum to promote the ideology of Falun Gong. I have made no judgements whatsoever on the message itself. (I did say the performance was mediocre, but, again, that is an accurate description and makes no reference to the ideology.)

It is evidently a purposeful strategy to deceive individuals into thinking they will see a celebration of Chinese culture when in actuality they will be subjected to what amounts to an indoctrination session. One can only theorize that the promoters of Shen Yun either realize their tickets sales would go down if they should candidly state the intent of the show, or the objective is to “ambush” unsuspecting patrons into hearing the plight of Falun Gong in hopes of engendering sympathy. No one seems willing to address the issue.

It should also be evident from my posts that my reaction was one of resentment at having been deceived by this subterfuge. No matter. I am on a personal campaign to contact media outlets in each U.S. city in which Shen Yun will perform in order to advise them of the true nature of the program.

I’ve already been called a Chinese spy and a liar. I would not be surprised to receive threats of physical violence from some “pacifistic” practitioners of Falun Gong. Will keep you posted!

Lidia

January 27th, 2010
11:56 am

@RJ
Hi RJ, I have checked out the website for Shen Yun. It does mention that performers practice Falun Dafa (http://www.shenyunperformingarts.org/artists) I have seen the show before, though not this year. There were cultures shown that I had not seen before (like Tibetan dance, Xinjian dance, Yi dance and so on). These performances were purely cultural and did not promote Falun Gong, so I don’t think it’s fair to say the whole show is about Falun Gong. As for the dances about Falun Gong – there were 2 when I watched the show – they were showing the persecution of the group in China. It reminded me of Solzhenitsyn’s books, exposing the torture of Soviet prisoners of consience while it was still going on in Russia. In Russia, we respect Solzhenitsyn for having exposed communist persecution while it was still going on. I respect that kind of courage, and when I saw it in Shen Yun show I thought it was part of Chinese culture too. I did not think the dance scenes about persecution were making anyone practice Falun Gong. Thank you!

RJ

January 27th, 2010
1:05 pm

@Lidia

Neither the promotional materials nor the website for the Cobb Energy Centre (where I got my information for the show) mentioned the intent of the show. Thus, I was blind-sided– and even a cursory review of the comments of others will demonstrate I am not the only one.

(After the fact I saw that the brochure listed some regional Falun Dafa group as a sponsor. Have since learned that is a pseudonym for Falun Gong. Had I seen that, I’m not sure that would have been enough at the time to forewarn of what was to come. Really a pity that one is expected to do exhaustive research on a performing arts group– looking for the fine print deep on their website– to draw conclusions about the intent of the program.)

For the record, the Tibetan dance was one of very few bright spots in the performance. You will find in my comments I said “virtually” the entire program was imbued with Falun Gong ideology, and did not implicate the show in its entirety– simply the vast majority of it.

jimmy

January 27th, 2010
1:43 pm

For those people who offended by message of persecution of Faun Gong in China, I suggest that you view the issue in a larger perspective, how about change Falun Gong to Buddhists, Christians, Tibetans. It just tells facts anyway. I admire the courage of Shenyun artists to reveal this tragedy happening in China (I can imagine how much pressure they have to face from Chinese Communist party). I often feel sad that major media choose to ignore this tragedy in China and appreciate that Shenyun brought up the matter to the people around the world. Besides the show is really fantastic, one can learn Chinese legend, costume, history, not just the entertainment. My Family enjoys the show. It is truly wonderful.

cyrus

January 27th, 2010
2:07 pm

RJ, it seems you have a lot of time in your hands and life. Hm. This is the longest I have been involved with a tread, or review, blog, etc. I have never seen someone so attached and so negative, as well as adamant about having your voice heard, and people recognizing what you have to say, while repeating the same negativities over and over again.

If your not some Chinese Communist supporter and you a are simply a citizen who wants to follow the show around and write bad reviews, well you want see me around, I have better things do the with my life, than stay online and write reviews. Seriously dude, what is wrong with your thinking and life?

RJ

January 27th, 2010
2:18 pm

@Cyrus

You’d be amazed what one can accomplish with good time-management skills…

cyrus

January 27th, 2010
2:25 pm

RJ, one more thing, I am sure you have a lot time in your life for a little more. When I got the brochure it had Buddhist monks and Dancers on it, and I read it carefully and it said its goal is to revive Chinese Culture and it is independent from the Chinese Regime. It also says sponsored by Falun Dafa. So I looked them up as any intelligent person would do, and found that Falun Dafa represents Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. Just check their website, Falundafa.org

I am a history and philosophy Buff, so I know China up until 1949 was mainly made up of a historical culture with major elements of Buddhism, Toaism and Confucianism. And that is what Falun Dafa is centered on. So when one is watching traditional culture from historical China, its going to have elements from Buddhism and Taoism, and that covered the term Falun Dafa. Although I am not a Chinese, I lived there a year, and speak pretty well. Fa is a Buddhist term for way and law, Dafa means the great way as a Taoist would put it, so for some one who is a little educated in traditional Chinese culture before the Communists, one would know. If you don’t like the spiritual aspects of the show, sorry bro, and if you don’t like classical dance, sorry bro, maybe you frefere just Rap and hiphop, because classical dance requires a different taste, or at least a different moond, one of calmness and positivity. But don’t knock on something because you lacked any common knowledge, and you obviously have personal issues, if not you would not be hysterical and so negative for a show, especially one that all the people that I was with enjoyed so much, and everyone gave a standing ovation.

I am done bro, I have things to do in my life, than being so negative on top of waisting my time arguing and writing reviews. Sorry for harshness towards, just don’t get how you can be so negative, as well spend so much of your time online. Best Wishes Bro.

Sarah

January 27th, 2010
4:25 pm

I have seen the show. I thought it was really good. I hope everyone can see it.

Moi Hung

January 27th, 2010
7:10 pm

Shen Yun is art and spiritual; not political.
Everyone in USA celebrate Martin Lurther King’s Day; would you say that everyone in America got involve in politics?

Ying

January 28th, 2010
1:20 am

to RJ, I’m sorry there are so many people making false arguments against your original idea. I wanted to help by telling my own personal experiences. However, it won’t work unless they want to wake up. I appreciated your time and effort but you can’t alert their ideas. Just like I can’t change my mother who left her family two days ago. Have a good day.

Pebbles

January 28th, 2010
10:44 am

Shen Yun recently played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Here’s a link to a video where some Members of Congress express their views about what they saw at the show:

http://english.ntdtv.com/ntdtv_en/ns_arts/2010-01-26/668501099335.html

RJ

January 28th, 2010
8:09 pm

@Pebbles

The nice thing about politicians is you always know when they’re lying: their lips move.

Chas

January 28th, 2010
8:31 pm

NTDTV is also a propaganda arm of Falun Gong, just like Epoch Times. Check the State Dept research paper titled “China and Falun Gong” by Dr. Thomas Lum on who runs these media outlets.

RJ

January 28th, 2010
11:18 pm

@Chas

Right on target. Very obviously a part of the Falun Gong machine. All the quotes had to do with the “uplifting of the human spirit” and the beauty/pageantry/etc. Never once mentioned Falun Gong.

What do you expect politicians to say when they’re being feted to a reception after the show: it stank? They want votes…

Denny

January 29th, 2010
3:54 am

Many paintings in the Palace of Versailles shows the persecution of Christians. Why don’t those paintings surprise anyone? Why are those paintings being cherished so much? Because there is important messages in those paintings: differentiate good from evil, and the power of belief. This is the value of life, the value of what we are living for. And this value is now presented by Shen Yun. Additionally, the Falun Gong practitioners in China are showing this value with their lives. I respect them, and respect Shen Yun for what they are giving to us.

RJ

January 29th, 2010
10:59 am

@Denny

Welcome to the discussion. It is unfortunate you evidently haven’t had time to read my many posts.

I do not take issue with Shen Yun promoting Falun Gong ideology. I do, however, take umbrage at the fact that there is a concerted effort to disguise the purpose of the show. One expects to see a celebration of Chinese culture, but, unfortunately, is subjected to something akin to an indoctrination session.

The problem is not the message, per se, but the deception that precedes it.

David K.

January 30th, 2010
12:20 am

Having seen Shen Yun, I believe Million Dollar Baby is a poor comparison. The film started out as a boxing movie, but then it turned into a right-to-die movie, no more boxing. Shen Yun had traditional dances throughout, and it appears that most people, as the article mentions with a link, didn’t seem to mind the two dances depicting the plight of Falun Gong practitioners. And I seem to recall that in those ones they were still dancing Chinese dance.

I take issue with some of the comments here, in particular that deception was being used. For instance, I saw Avatar in theatres, and didn’t care for it because of some of the political themes brought out in the dialogue. Regardless, the film is pretty popular. I didn’t like it, that’s my opinion, and I seem to be in the minority. But was I deceived? Of course not.

When I saw the show, it had 2 dances about the plight of Falun Gong practitioners in China, 3 songs, an instrumental solo, and about 15 other dances. The whole show was Chinese content, and over 3/4 was traditional dance, which is what the show was billed as. Will some people not like the show? Of course. But deception?

I question RJ’s comment that Shen Yun promoted Falun Gong ideology. Was it one of the Fan dances? The Tibetan dance? The one with the tiger? Maybe we saw a different show. From what I took in, the two dances in question were depicting their current oppression, not soliciting their ideology. I had no problem with it. Were this a Chinese dance production put on by Tibetan Buddhists, with a dance or two about the current plight of Tibetans, neither would I have had a problem (assuming it was tastefully done). I can understand how someone might not enjoy it. But deception? There were another 15 Chinese dances in the show! I’ve felt cheated by some movies/shows in the past, but Shen Yun certainly wasn’t one of them.

David

RJ

January 30th, 2010
9:56 am

@David K.

Nice job of selectively mentioning the two or three dances which did not espouse any ideology. As I stated previously, the Tibetan dance was one of very few bright spots in the show.

Why don’t you try to explain the songs sung by the soprano and tenor at different parts of the show extolling the virtues of Falun Gong. Let’s see, I believe some of the lyrics said, “The life-saving Way is spread / And the Red Fiend’s lies crumble / Truth dispels confusion / The saved escape catastrophe / Intent to cultivate Dafa.” No intent to indoctrinate there, eh?

Have said this at least three times already, but, since you missed it, I will repeat: virtually the entire show was imbued with Falun Gong ideology– a fact of which I am sure you are aware.

Given the continual resorting to this tactic of persistently down-playing the purpose and content of the show, one is left to wonder if the practice of deception is one of the tenets of Falun Gong. I think not, but it certainly is a characteristic of Shen Yun.

KJV

January 30th, 2010
1:36 pm

When I first saw ShenYun a few years ago, I must admit that I felt worried that some people might react to the Falun Gong and persecution shows. But then, something happened which made me fundamentally change my thoughts.

I remembered back to all of the photos I had seen on the Internet of Falun Gong practitioners gathering in the tens of thousands throughout China, at that time with full support of the Chinese government. I remembered the photos of all the awards presented to Mr Li by government organizations, and I remembered all the stories of the benefits that Falun Gong brought, not just to individuals, but to the entire Chinese society.

Before the persecution began, one in every thirteen people were practicing Falun Gong in China, a total of 100 million. Now, as a result of persecution, it has become the catalyst that has triggered the concern and attention of governments, organizations and people throughout the world, not just for Falun Gong practitioners, but for all those who are suffering at the hand of the brutal Communist regime.

When I thought of all of these things, I realized that Chinese culture, can no longer be separated from Falun Gong, and it never will be again in the future.

I also realized something else which shocked me deeply.

Right now, the only people that are still trying to deny the benefit, the impact and even the existence of Falun Gong are Chinese Communists, trying to cover-up and legitimize their crimes, or those who have been silenced by pressure, bought out, or misled. The fact that I, one who has directly benefited from practicing Falun Gong, could question it being in ShenYun, shows how far the lies have spread, and how much they have affected our ability to judge things rationally.

If not for the CCP’s persecution, Falun Gong would still be in its rightful place in China, as the largest, and most impacting spiritual movement in Chinese history. It would be loved by those that practice it, and respected by those that don’t – this was the state of the society before the persecution, besides a couple of power-hungry people at the top level of the government. There wouldn’t be one question in our minds about whether or not Falun Gong would be referenced in a show about Chinese culture.

Before I sign off, I have to say that I have seen ShenYun no less than 10 times now, and I have shed tears every single time. These people are so beautiful and peaceful, and I admire their courage to speak it when so many others remain silent. They have given me the deepest respect for the Chinese people & culture, as has Falun Gong!

Sandra Cummins

January 30th, 2010
5:06 pm

We saw the show on Friday and it was incredible!! So sorry for not sending a Thank You until now. We enjoyed each of the performances and were impressed with the incredible costumes and dancing!

The performances that depicted the oppression of the Chinese government were impactful, my daugter, husband and I talked about it all the way home. I would like to see it again next year and would recommend it to other people. I actually did recommend it to a colleague and his wife on Saturday morning, they were visiting in Atlanta this past weekend.

Thanks Again, Sandra Cummins

M. Teri

January 30th, 2010
10:01 pm

Actually, to me, Shen Yun’s shows reflect the spiritual history of China, of which Falun Gong is part of. I understand from the Shen Yun literature that this is the reason for their inclusion of content pertaining to Falun Gong’s persecution – which they consider part of China’s modern story. The Communists suppress traditional cultures and spiritual traditions – this is an undeniable fact about China’s current regime. Also, there are commonalities between these suppressed traditions. For instance, the songs’ lyrics are similar to what MANY spiritual traditions are talking about in terms of “end times.” You do a Google search for “prophecies” and you will find MANY sites devoted to the MANY spiritual traditions worldwide that believe these times we live in as “significant”. There’s a lack of understanding about Shen Yun shows on many levels – about Falun Gong and it’s place in China’s spiritual history, about the Communist regime, and about China’s 5000 year history that only survived due to the strength of its spiritual practices. The people I’ve spoken to who have seen the shows, who come from other spiritual and cultural backgrounds, all talk about the UNIVERSALITY of the themes presented in Shen Yun. How can something be “propagandistic” if it’s recognized and appreciated by people from different cultural backgrounds?

The people who are offended by the so-called propaganda of Falun Gong do not understand the true spiritual nature of China’s traditions, nor do they understand that Falun Gong is also a part of the same traditions. This is the real problem with the some of negative postings here and elsewhere. And this legitimizes all the more, the importance and brilliance of the Shen Yun shows. They effectively present the spiritual history of China – something no one else has ever done before in the history of entertainment. For that, I am grateful to them. As a 2nd generation Chinese-American.

Go Jags

January 31st, 2010
12:16 am

Didn’t see the show in Atlanta, but read this thread. I happened to be in Jacksonville Florida this weekend, so I decided to invite a family friend to the show on Saturday night.

Folks, it is an unbelievable performance. My advise to everyone: Don’t listen to those guys who said negative things about Shen Yun – you have to see it to make your own judgement. We certainly enjoyed every program in the show.

Kim

January 31st, 2010
12:55 am

All ancient cultures have a spiritual content and message. For example, if you learn Shaolin kungfu, there is a Buddhist tradition and message imbued in the movements. If you learn Tai Chi, there is a message of yin/yang balance and the principles of the great ultimate and Tao as you practice the slow and gentle movements. Ancient Europe and Christianity were inseparable and in those days, many people do fear being ex-communicated (by church and society). It is only modern times when traditional cultures and beliefs are separated. Even modern movies like “Lord of the Rings” try to portray a conflict of good and evil (with the image of ancient Europe), but minus the religious factor. People have latched onto this distortion and think that that is the way it is suppose to be and have forgotten that ancient cultures and beliefs were always together. A good example is the people of Tibet. These mountain dwellers live their lives with spirituality and follow the Dalai Lama. They’ve always kept to themselves yet they too (amongst many other groups including Falun Gong) are brave enough to continue their beliefs in spite of the evil government attacking them physically. It is precisely because this evil government is cowardly (completely opposite of “brave”) that it resorts to silly language like “sensitive”, “politics”, “inconvenient”, “anti-China”, “propaganda”, etc. to hide themselves from the truth of their evil-doing. It is too bad that some people are easily fooled by modern evilness and have forgotten ancient traditional values.

sam

February 3rd, 2010
9:13 am

If it is about politics, I would rather the news was as entertaining to watch.
If it is about propaganda, this is still better than most of the Hollywood patriotic BS action flick that they churn. Ohh, America is best – that’s why we win all our fights -be it against aliens maruaders (war of the worlds, independence day), racing cars (Tokyo Drift – has to be an american in an american muscle car that wins) etc. and yes, the guy always has to get the girl in the end. ¬_¬

wanxia

February 14th, 2010
9:39 pm

the SY show was great, even though the political message at the end was not quite subtle. in that respect, hollywood does it better when it wants to, as in avatar… so, there is room for improvement for FLG’s artists. still, i applaud the artistic accomplishment of the SY group; it is not easy to put together such a big group of very fine traditional chinese dancers overseas, but they have certainly done it well. it is not like, say, a china mainland group which does an overseas tour – they can gather the finest performers from 1.3 billion people to generate the wow effect – something they did in the olympics opening ceremony in 2008. the depth of talent in the SY group also shows how many chinese artists have turned against the chinese communist party (ccp).

talking about deception, the ccp’s recent opening of “confucius institutes” all over the world is a deception on a global scale. it is little more than a language institute, and it teaches only the standardized simplified chinese script, something that was invented during ccp rule and in use for less than 60 years, compared to 6,000 years of chinese writing culture. similarly, the institute teaches not quite chinese culture, but a selected part of it through ccp lenses. while SY can be criticized for not being subtle enough in its political message, the nature of beijing’s global “cultural activities” should be thoroughly exposed by all truth-loving chinese and non-chinese alike.

LR

February 15th, 2010
12:54 am

@Wanxia and others

By accident, I ran into this comment stream when I tried to find news from Winter Olympic games on the mix Chinese figure pair in the short program performed tonight. They did great and I wish they can finally get an Olympic gold medal after 18 years’ hard pursue.

I feel an urge to say something after I saw so many negative comments on China. Some are very narrow focused or one sided (for example, wanxia’s comments on teaching only the standardized simplified chinese script). I would like to ask wanxia how many different major kinds of Chinese script in 6,000 years of Chinese writing culture. I just don’t see it is practical to teach kids of more than ten major kinds of Chinese script in 6,000 years of Chinese writing culture. Probably only some historians will know a few at best. Something changes no matter which party rules in China. The reality is that you porbably won’t hear the most Chinese people’s opinion on their life in China since they are happy and busy with their life. They are silent majority.

Ying, I am so sorry to hear your story. One of my friend has a similar situation. It is very hard to change an adult’s mind including all the people left a comment here. My heart and pray goes to you and your family.

As a person grew up in China, my extended family and I went through some wide ranges of experiences. Some can be considered as an ultimate family tragedy (great uncle was prosecuted to death for no real wrong doing during the culture revolution); some can be labled as a hardship (father was sent to camp because he was a scientist during the culture revolution when I was four years); and some can be seen as a success and progress (both my parents were able to go to an univeristy and got a highly successful career not only because of their talents and hard work but also ccp’s policy to offer kids in poor or remoted villages an education opportunity which it would be impossible before the ccp’s rule); finally I personally have benefited the recent China open policy and came to US to enjoy even broader opportunities.

In Chinese words, everything has a Ying and a Yang. I wish China can continue improving significantly in the future even speaking of ccp’s policy. This will benefit most of billions of Chinese people. I appreciate your care and interests in China and Chinese people. Today is Chinese New Year and I wish everyone a happy new year!

Omid

April 30th, 2010
10:49 am

Well, Shen Yun is the best show I have ever seen. And whats wrong with there being some information about the persecution of Falun Gong in China? People need to see what is happening in China, so I think it was only natural for them to include it. Also I dont think there is anything wrong with Falun Gong, Falun Gong is certainly not a cult. It is actually a very good practice that teaches people that one should do good and follow truth, compassion, forbearence. Whats wrong with that? Nothing. Its only the chinese communist party that calls falun gong a cult, most of us in the western societies know that falun gong is not a cult and is actually a good practice. Thanks shen yun and thank you falun gong!

JC Catiller

May 10th, 2010
12:00 am

I am so glad that I found this thread. I saw the advertisments, picked up the brochures, saw a preview video and even spoke with a spoke person for the show at the mall. Everything was about the amazing, inspiring, costumes music and dance. Not one menion of watching the portryal of a beating of a mother and child at the end. It is one thing to present a show ss “moving”, “shocking” or “educational” or even as political commentary, but be honest about it. I would have been extremely angry to have shelled out $75 apiece for myself, my wife and my son expecting to see something escapist, fun and uplifting, only to have it all end with a murder. There are other shows featuring the amazing Chinese dances, costumes and acrobatics, without the heavy handed and violent “social commentary”.

eve

May 20th, 2010
8:52 pm

This is one of those arguments that will never have a conclusion. You can never convince Christains that God doesn’t exist. Vise versa, you can never convince a scientific person that God created everything.

Sue

May 28th, 2010
10:47 am

Just watched this production. To be honest, even without the strong religious emphasis, the quality apart from a few segments was pretty bad. For the prices these guys are charging, my tickets were over a 100 bucks each, they need to lift their game… by alot! I would definitely not recommend this to anyone.

BTW this thread seems to have gone way off track. The obvious FLG supporters/trolls should go discuss your ideology somewhere else, this is about the quality/value of the production.

Jane

May 30th, 2010
4:48 pm

I was taken to this show last year by an acquaintance, who promised we would spend the evening watching an enchanting performance of traditional Chinese dances. I was appalled and deeply offended at being subjected to virtually non-stop falun gong propaganda until I walked out at the intermission.
Although I know next to nothing about traditional Chinese dance, I can confirm that this show has attained a high level of kitsch and poor taste. Clothed in garish colors, the dancers were capable of little more than synchronized movement. The tenor and soprano introduced a jarring note as they extolled the virtues of falun dafa. The climax came when black-suited thugs popped out and murdered a peace-loving family in the park.
I find it highly insulting that falun gong deceives people in order to part them from their money (the tickets are not cheap) and force them to watch their agitprop. How different are their methods from those of the CCP they so detest?
By the way, FG sockpuppets, I deplore the persecution and other crimes perpetrated by the Chinese government against all individuals and groups.

Earl

June 28th, 2010
11:21 pm

The promotional text at the Providence (RI) Performing Arts Center’s web site seemed promising:
“Shen Yun Performing Arts presents classical Chinese dance and music in a lavishly colorful and exhilarating show. Its masterful choreography ranges from grand imperial processions to legions of thunderous drums, with gorgeously costumed dancers moving in stunning synchronized patterns.
Spectacular visuals take you to another world, with blossoming landscapes and celestial palaces appearing on beautiful animated backdrops. Groundbreaking music seamlessly combines the best of the East and West, giving each dance an unmistakable flair.
Ancient legends of virtue and modern tales of courage are brought to life by over a dozen dances and songs, making for one extraordinary, uplifting, and unforgettable experience.”
- Being curious about Chinese culture and dance, we bought tickets and took in the show Sat night (June 26). I suppose I should have done more research on the ensemble. Sure, there were some colorful moments of dancing, but there was also a pair of emcees introducing each number with stiff and amateurish attempts at humor. There was a political agenda underlying the whole show on behalf of the Falun Gong which was never mentioned in the advertising, and plenty of proselytizing for the show’s belief in Falun Dafa, all reinforced by cheesy animations projected on a big screen and song numbers with awkward lyrics that ironically seem to take after the style of heavy handed Communist indoctrination. Anybody bringing young kids would have been upset by the scenes showing parents being beaten or tasered by goons.
- Now I have no problem with political dissent of any kind, and as a performing artist I completely believe in freedom of expression. Shen Yun absolutely has the right to present anything they wish, and they have a right to their beliefs. But I do object to the lack of candor and honesty in advertising the specific content and nature of this show, and as a result Shen Yun, PPAC, and other arts centers around the country do a disservice to Chinese dissidents. We nearly walked out at intermission, but decided to give the thing a chance; I wish in retrospect we had left and spent more time at the Waterfire down the street. Had I know what we were really in for, I would have never bought tickets. I can get propaganda online for free.

Sara Chan

August 29th, 2010
9:32 pm

I bought my tickets at the mall for the 8/21/10 show, where I was told it was going to be a beautiful show about Chinese dance and culture, and that my children and elderly mother would enjoy it. I was NOT told it was sponsored by the local Falun Gong. And I didn’t think I would have to do research when purchasing dance show tickets.
The traditional Chinese dancing was ok, but I didnt expect was to be sitting through numerous Falun Gong songs and to see a dance piece where bad Chinese communists beat and kill a Falun Gong mother in front of her child. How is this considered traditional Chinese dance? I was half expecting more bad Chinese communists to break into the Tibetian peace dance piece that followed it.
I would have walked out of the show, except that I paid almost $500 for all our tickets and felt obligated to stay for our money’s worth!! I was fuming for the remainder of the show. Hard to enjoy anything in that kind of mood.
Shen Yun should definitely stop misleading people into seeing a show that is really a Falun Gong show. I don’t appreciate being blindsided (not to mention PAYING that amount of money to be blindsided). I could have gone to a really great Broadway show for the same price. Unless you intend of giving the FG group a large donation, do something else with your time and money.