ST. PAUL, Minn.—Through arduous effort, Shen Yun Performing Arts labored tirelessly to impart China’s 5,000 years of traditional culture to Minnesota Audiences at Ordway Center in St. Paul from Feb. 14 to 17. University professors in attendance on Feb. 15 shared their perception of the messages conveyed in the performance.
“One of the main points, I think that the audience understands is the importance of spiritual values to begin with,” said Kirk Allison, Former Director of Human Rights and Health at University of Minnesota. “The material view is not sufficient, and that’s very important for people to hear that message.”
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be here and appreciate this wonderful production,” said Allison.
Expression of Emotions
Through traditional costumes and colors, classical music and dance, and traditional Bel Canto opera techniques, Shen Yun evokes powerful thoughts and feelings for those in attendance. When asked how he felt after watching Shen Yun, Allison was elated yet solemn.
“Kind of a mix, I’m very elated with the performance, but I’m also very sad with the historical situation,” said Allison. “Because it’s something that I’ve been paying attention to and working on the human rights side of things, for about a decade.
“And the oppression is a long story of totalitarian regimes oftentimes persecuting people that would be the best for the cultures, and for the society, it’s not a new thing, it happened in Soviet Russia, the Orthodox and others, and it’s happening in China, and now unfortunately with [Chinese leader] Xi things are sort of moving back towards cult of personality which is also not a step forward for the whole of the Chinese people.
“And then again with the expansion one could add the persecution of the Uyghurs which are sort of the latest of this long and sad cycle of mass incarcerations, so the world really needs to pay attention, and put moral values ahead of material values also in issues of trade and other things when dealing with these issues,” said Allison.
Dmitri Medvedovski, Professor of Economics at Bethel University also had mixed feelings evoked from the performance.
“Conflicted in a way,” said Medvedovski.”Because I am intimately familiar with forces of evil, so to speak, that were introduced through this performance, and it brought some painful experiences and memories. So that’s what I will have to take away.”
When asked about the spiritual component portrayed through the performance, Medvedovski was articulate.
“It is another dimension of the conflict for me because I am Christian by choice,” said Medvedovski. “In terms of staying in general level I can relate to that, but when it comes to peculiar details, then I will have to find a way to reconcile it with my own faith, but I don’t mind to do that, because the cultural aspect helps me to overcome those differences.”
“When it comes to good prevailing over evil, I agree,” he said.
Mission of Revival
Traditional Chinese culture is considered by many to be divinely inspired. In contrast, the Chinese Communist Party is officially an atheist regime and fears Shen Yun’s freedom of expression, not allowing Shen Yun to perform in China. Shen Yun states on its website that it was founded in 2006 by Falun Dafa practitioners and is on a mission to revive the essence of Chinese culture through the performing arts.
“I think it’s admirable and valuable, and I hope that will continue without major cost in terms of how receptive it is in [the] motherland of China,” said Medvedovski. “I hope that one day, it will be more embracive of this mission instead of being antagonistic.”
“It’s refreshing, and it certainly is encouraging you to believe that good has lasting powers,” he said.
Spiritual elements throughout the performance are perceived in different ways. For Professor Medvedovski, he said he felt uplifted and encouraged.
“It made me contemplate of spiritual values that I carry on daily life because all of us face evil every single day and in terms of the struggle between good and evil it lies within each person’s heart,” said Medvedovski. “And I think what I’ve seen today, it could be an encouragement to address this struggle inside moving towards more good, and hopefully my own actions and words will be manifesting that struggle to success.
“I think that anyone who is contemplating to attend, they should certainly give it a serious take and I believe it could be very meaningful and moving, and I’m thankful for having this chance to be here.”
NTD News, St. Paul, Minnesota