Thursday To-Do: Shen Yun | Rock Candy

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thursday To-Do: Shen Yun

Posted on Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 8:35 AM

click to enlarge shen_yun.jpg

7:30 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $65-$139.

It's not every day that you can go on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture without leaving Little Rock. But you'll get just such an opportunity when Shen Yun comes to Robinson Center Music Hall. According to the official Shen Yun website, "Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired. A Shen Yun performance features the world's foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops — together creating one spectacular performance."

At the heart of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, which blends impressive flips and jumps and stuff with a very refined and highly controlled elegance of movement and also vibrant and wildly colorful costumes and capes. Having not been to a Shen Yun performance myself, I checked out some videos and it is impressive, let me tell you. I can only imagine how rad it all looks live and in person.

UPDATE: Here's an email from someone who went to last year's Shen Yun performance and was put off by its political content. Reviews vary, but it's fair to say many others were also not into the message, described by one reviewer as "eerie propaganda for Falun Dafa/Falun Gong."

Mr. Bell—

You’re right. It does look rad when viewed live and in person.

But what they don’t show in the video is their political agenda. (Which is not so much rad as reactionary.)

The troupe’s mission, not stated but obvious to everyone attending by the time the intermission arrives, is to protest the fact that mainland China is ruled by a Communist government. The founders of the troupe, and many of its members, are from Taiwan, and roughly every third piece of dance or music that’s presented is aimed at educating the audience about Communist atrocities committed against Chinese (and Taiwanese) Nationalists over the years. Plus, during the intermission, they send a troupe of supposed “independent reporters” out into the lobby to interview audience members and find out what they think of the message. If you express any sympathy at all this ‘survey’ turns into an attempt to raise funds for their political organization. It’s not very subtle, and the so-called reporters are clearly part of that organization themselves.

I enjoyed last year’s show in spite of these shenanigans, but I must admit I escaped during the final number so as to avoid being ‘interviewed’ again.

I think your readers deserve to know what they’re really letting themselves in for when they attend.

—An Anonymous Audience member from last year.



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