Friday, March 15, 2019

Shen Yun

The commercials made me drool.  The colors jumped off the screen and so did the performers.  They leaped and twirled and spun as their costumes flared around them.  We missed them last year.  I was determined to go this year.  When I saw that the performance was on my birthday, I bought two seats on the aisle.

They were not inexpensive.

Billed as a response to the Communist Chinese Government's position that this spiritual heritage (was) an ideological threat,  a threat which they took so seriously that they,  for decades, tried to destroy these traditions, artistic director D.F. brings his company to venues all across the globe.  The advertising was sublime - people testified to seeing it 7 or 10 times, of having it change their outlook on the world, of being transported.

For TBG and me, not so much. 

There were two narrators - one speaking English, one Chinese (I suppose, since I speak no Chinese myself) - who introduced us through each half's ten segments.  The Ming Imperial Guards, the Sleeves of the Tang Palace. Porcelain in the Balance - it was a tour through 5,000 years of Chinese history presented with brilliant colors and flowing sleeves..... lots and lots of flowing sleeves. 

The porcelain jars were balanced on the girls' heads as they twirled and dipped and pranced.  The Imperial guards were fierce, the sleeves of the Tang Palace went in and out as if by magic.  We were kinda sorta impressed, but also somewhat non-plussed.

Their leaps were almost high enough, their pirouettes nearly flawless, their somersaults herky jerky.  There was leap frog.  There were circle dances.  There was running and holding and losing and finding but it was all just a little bit less than we'd expected.

What I didn't realize until The Divine Path is Near was that there was a spiritual underpinning to the whole thing.  There was a diety on the really-pretty-amazing screen  (the performers went into and out of the screen, in a patented system and method of integrating digital background with stage performance -US Patent No. 9,468,860) and the song was trying to touch my beliefs.

 Reading the program, I learned that the troupe members are spiritual seekers on a shared journey.  They draw inspiration from the spiritual practice of Falun Dafa.  They meditate together, study teachings together, and strive to live by the principles of truth, compassion and forbearance...(p)erforming with remarkable self-discipline and selflessness.....

The male narrator told us that Falun Dafa is also called Falun Gong.

The Artistic Director, D.F. is also the costume designer, director of classical Chinese dance, and a Distinguished Professor of Music and Dance at Fei Tian College in New York, an accredited 4 year college under the auspices of Falun Gong in America.  The LA Times gives a good background on the politics and the persecution and the origins (in 1992) of the movement. 

Nowhere does it reference the Law and Order episode which ended with Falun Gong members standing silently, arms outstretched, on the courthouse steps.  Everyone who heard my story remembered that episode.  No one remembered what the politics were or what the story line was or who was the good guy or the bad guy.  Everyone remembered the silent figures as creepy.

That's kind of what the show was like, too.



    Your timing is excellent as always!
    -Niece intrepidcat (who isn't logged in to anything)

    1. "wondering, as I have been wondering, how something could be so much more and so much less than what it seemed."

      Thanks for this, Niece-type. I love when others agree with me!
      a/b (Aunt-type)


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