Enter a Divine Land

by AV Staff

Shen Yun, the world touring Chinese Performing Arts Company will be returning to Shea’s this weekend. The talented company presents a story-based performance of Chinese classical dance combined with ethnic dance, folk dance and featured solo performers. A western philharmonic orchestra that interestingly integrates traditional Chinese instruments accompanies the dancers. 

Shen Yun, which translates into “the beauty of divine beings dancing,” manages somehow to recount 5,000 years of Chinese history in a little over two hours. As many as 60 male and female dancers do this through a series of about 20 different stories expressed through dance.shen-2

Those stories include the legends of Yue Fei, the Song dynasty general revered for his loyalty, and Mulan, the heroine who joined the army disguised as a man. There is a retelling of a Buddhist monk’s pilgrimage to India, derived from the 16th-century Chinese novel “Journey to the West,” as well as modern tales like “Astounding Conviction,” focusing on the spirit of a peaceful demonstrator arrested in Tiananmen Square. Also depicted is the persecution today of Falun Gong practioners.

Some parts of the performance feature operatic singing, drumming and folk dances from Tibet, Mongolia and other border regions. And to assure the audience is able to follow the storyline a brief plot summary is given by two emcees before each act.

If you’ve seen Shen Yun before you know to expect lavish costumes and scenes of palaces, mountains, grasslands and more, which are all accomplished with sophisticated digital backgrounds of rich colors and animations.

Shen Yun, which was founded in 2006 by practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline, layers much of their performance with their spiritual beliefs. There has been a good deal of criticism on this point. However, when one considers the historical and often violent purges of classical culture by the Chinese Communist Party, like the so called “cultural revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s, and the ongoing persecution of Falun Gong, perhaps it is best to concentrate on the performance and not Chinese politics of which we know so little. shen-3

The founders and members of Shen Yun believe Chinese culture to have been nearly destroyed by the Chinese Communist Party government.[6] Now performances around the world are hosted by local Falun Dafa Associations in hopes of preserving it.

The invitation from Shen Yun on their website is simple:

“There was a time when the world was full of magic and splendor, as if all on Earth existed in harmony with Heaven. You could see it in the arts, feel it in the air, and hear it in the beat of a drum. This was a land of heroes and sages, dragons and phoenixes, emperors and immortals. Known today as China, this place was once called “the Middle Kingdom” and “the Land of the Divine.”

What if you could journey back and visit this lost world…?”

Performances are Saturday, April 23 at 7:30pm and Sunday, April 24 at 2pm.

For further information visit 

www.shenyunperformingarts.org