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Shen Yun ‘Is Honest and They Don’t Hold Back,’ Says Professor

BERKELEY, Calif.—Philosophy professor Stephan Johnson exited the Zellerbach Hall on the evening of Jan 14, “surprisingly pleased” with Shen Yun Performing Arts. “I liked it a lot! I liked the aesthetics, the orchestra, and the narration. The dancing was impeccable. It was a great time.”

New York-based Shen Yun was founded in 2006 by leading Chinese artists who had fled the persecution of the communist party. Its mission is to bring back China’s 5,000 years of traditional culture that had been destroyed by decades of communist rule.

In the 2023 touring season, Shen Yun performers will be traveling to more than 180 cities across five continents to share with the world, through dance and music, the beauty of pre-communist China. However, the company is currently banned by China’s ruling communist party from performing in China.

“I’ve been to China five or six times. It’s amazing how little of this you see in contemporary China. That’s too bad. There’s more to the culture than people see nowadays,” Dr. Johnson said.

“What I think is interesting is how much communism has changed China. A lot of people realize that there is a difference between China now and [China back then.] But people don’t evaluate how much Marxism has [pushed the country] away from its traditional cultural roots.”

Prior to the communist takeover, Chinese people were deeply spiritual. The foundation of their culture was built upon the teachings of Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. Following the communist regime’s takeover and spread of atheism, these beliefs were systematically erased.

Dr. Johnson was impressed by Shen Yun’s modern-day dance piece that depicts the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of Falun Gong, a spiritual practice whose followers uphold the values of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

“I liked the forthrightness of the message. I like that [Shen Yun] is honest about it and they don’t hold back.”

Also in the audience, on the evening of Jan. 14, was former dancer Laura Boone. This was the first time Ms. Boone attended Shen Yun and she felt that the energy given off by the performers was “very warm and full of light.”

Referring to the performers’ mission to revive traditional culture, Ms. Boone said it was “breathtaking, beautiful, and emotional too. If you listen to what [they’re trying to convey,] they’re dancing for that reason. They’re so strong and passionate.”

“I think we all need to practice tolerance and forgiveness and be loving. Express ourselves and stand up to people who are telling us we can’t do that.”

Reporting by NTD, Lily Yu, and Jennifer Tseng.

The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of Shen Yun Performing Arts. We have covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.


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