The Magic of Shen Yun 


I recently pulled the straw out of my hair and for a treat  headed down to the city to see the Chinese traditional ballet extravaganza Shen Yun at the Qld Performing Arts  Centre

The Shen Yun company is based in New York  with its mission to revive and keep alive 5000 years of traditional Chinese culture .Every year the company tours the world with a new stage show extravaganza including traditional Chinese dance, all original live orchestral works and patented scenographical effects .

I sat in a box seat which afforded me splendid views .I found the show visually very beautiful and light filled and uplifting if somewhat puritanical idealistic and romantic (even for me haha ) It celebrated all that was beautiful noble and uplifting  about ancient Chinese culture  and values bringing to life  the myths and legends of Chinas ancient past but I did wonder  at times where were the starving peasant serfs and plundering  warlords and  the ladies hobbling around on bound and broken feet which were also part of ancient Chinese culture ? .

The show opened with a Chinese creation story of Divine immortal beings sent to earth to recreate Heaven on Earth The dancers certainly looked Divine in their exquisite costumes which changed in colour and style from dance to dance but generally featured either diaphanous skirts or  long flowing silk sleeves or floaty silk scarves so that as the dancers  moved in synchronized formation opening up like gorgeous blossoms or leapt blazing trails of silken beauty like birds in flight or painting rainbow clouds across the  stage skies .The women dancers in particular were the epitome of grace and beauty combining contemporary ballet moves with  with their dainty stylized  hand  gestures and exacting classical Chinese dance postures rendered with stylized but  fluid grace  .

The music also original compositions played by a live orchestra consisting of both Western and traditional Chinese    music  was certainly a Heavenly and very satisfying experience.  

There were recreations of  tales of love struck men and women either disappearing into  classical Chinese paintings or travelling skywards to visit moon maidens l’amours . This other dimensional travel was cunningly crafted .The dancers would suddenly disappear over a ledge at the back of a stage and then their identical digitalized image would suddenly  appear on the backdrop screen as they shimmied up moonbeams or suddenly appeared as characters who had climbed into the painting .

There were humorous tales of hapless monks who saved their monastaries   from maurauding thieves  day and a heavenly realm ruled over by fertile Goddesses  lake where if one took even a small sip of water  even men ended up getting pregnant .

Unashamedly aligned to spiritual  practice many of the dancers performing in Shen Yun  meditate daily and  speak of this practice enabling them to remain centred and strong and very present in their performances  They are supporters of  the spiritual practice of Falun Gong and I guess the programme designers and choreographers decided to alert audiences to the fact that in China Falon Gong practitioners are still being persecuted and tortured with horrific stories coming out of China about those practising  Falon Gong being killed for  their organs which are then sold on the black market  .

In this Shen Yun show there was one very hard hitting scene which represented a complete change of mood in the show Moving as it did suddenly from revelling in  the sublime and light and beautiful  to quite frankly dark and  horrific as the dancers portrayed  a young  woman Falon Gong enthusiast  who was arrested and then taken to be tortured One could hear the  resounding crack  of this device of torture we saw  which broke the womans fingers  and then the whole performance arena was plunged into darkness as we realized with horror her eyes had been put out

It was very sobering as up until this point the programme of dance had been generally  focusing on gentle positive themes and celebrating and revelling in  ephemeral beauty and I think the choreographers and programmers really  need to be thoughtful about the fact they are taking the  audience on  a journey with people watching so much ephemeral beauty  perhaps being  momentarily  off thie guard and emotionally open and  vulnerable So to be suddenly zapped and confronted with this awful brutal reality  of Falon Gong persecution. I found very hard hitting and unexpected  .

However I felt  it was fair enough for the company  to use the show as a forum for an expression of their concern of these practices still going on  in China and to bring   to their audiences attention the sobering facts of this spiritual warfare and persecution happening to Falon Gong practitioners just as other  campaigns of spiritual  persecutions are going on in other parts  of our world. The persecution of Buddhist monks in  Tibet and Myanmar for example where thug regimes in these countries  feel the need  to  undermine people using simple gentle rigorous practices which enable them which enable them  to be able to tap into honour and master their spiritual gifts and their spiritual power .

Interesting how people in our own  progressive and enlightened culture who practice yoga now sit squarely in the middle of totally acceptable and  desirable  mainstream health practices .One can only hope the rest of the world quickly catches up and this draconian and quite frankly demonic practices stop . 

We were treated to  a soulful performance of erhu solo which is the two stringed  instrument people would immediately recognise as  creating  traditional Japanese musical sound .

The overall Shen Yun  show I felt was touchingly and niavely moralistic imploring people to recognise the rewards of living a pure and virtuous life   of piety and goodness and morality and clean living ……

The final act was this Chinese opera singer imploring us to turn back to God and eschew atheism and evolutionary theory in pursuit of ushering in a new Divine order on earth 

Overall I found the show a dazzling spectacle of great beauty and uplifting thought and philosophy .I felt  to be able to sit through 2 hours of  live  original orchestral  music featuring  both western and traditional Chinese instruments alone was  worth the price of the ticket  

Wendy Buss

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