Sydney theatergoers were delighted to experience Shen Yun’s depiction of China’s ancient culture, and the message of hope it displayed, at Sydney’s Lyric Theater last week.
Peter Kurti, director of the Culture, Prosperity, and Civil Society program at the Australian think tank The Centre for Independent Studies, said the performance was “a tremendous display of artistic virtuosity, in dance, in choreography, in music, and just in the technical standards of the production.”
“What I think is really important and impressive was this communication of tradition, and conveying to a contemporary audience … that tradition is important, and that tradition defines who we are,” Kurti said on April 10 after watching the performance at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre. “I thought that Shen Yun expressed that extremely well, and in a very powerful way.”
Shen Yun’s mission is to revive China’s 5,000-year-old culture by bringing stories to life, as well as the inner essence of ancient China’s culture through song and dance.
According to the company’s website, China’s ancient name was “The Land of the Divine.”
It was believed that music, medicine, calligraphy, clothing, language, and much more were passed down through the culture from the heavens.
“There is something, someone, or something, some energy, God, whatever you want to believe in, whatever culture you’re from—there is something out there and something looking after us, on our shoulders looking after us and guiding us throughout this life and throughout the afterlife. So it brings us hope, which is fabulous, we need this,” said Rosemarie Jabbour, an award-winning chiropractor and owner of New World Chiro, after watching Shen Yun on April 9.
However, the ancient culture of China was almost lost under communism, where traditional culture is seen as a threat to communist rule. Through campaigns such as the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party systematically uprooted traditional beliefs and destroyed ancient treasures, bringing 5,000 years of civilization to the brink of extinction.
One modern vignette in the show, which depicted the organ harvesting of a practitioner of Falun Dafa, an ancient spiritual practice based on the principles of truth, compassion, and tolerance, was particularly moving to Jabbour.
“The death of that lady and then bringing her back to life, that story … it depicts what’s happening in the world today and how we need to have hope and we need to help each other in order to move forward and be happy in our lives,” Jabbour said.
Kurti added: “I thought that the performances helped the audience to understand just how oppressive the communist regime has been for people in traditional China and the impact that the regime is having today on traditional Chinese teachings and values around the world.”
Meanwhile, John Booth, managing editor of The Weekly Times, said Shen Yun was a performance people should be proud to see.
“I’m not a Buddhist or Tibetan, but I am a Christian and I really enjoy it. I think it’s good values and really something you can just enjoy and tell your folk about. You can tell your family about it and not be ashamed of anything.”
Shen Yun continues its tour in Sydney, Melbourne, Bendigo, Toowoomba, the Gold Coast, and Adelaide through to May 15.