Shen Yun Brings Chinese Dance, Music, Culture to Kennedy Center

Dong Xiang: Shen Yun means 'the beauty of divine-being dancing.'

Liz Anderson | November 30, -0001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — Get ready for thousands of years of Chinese culture.

New York-based Shen Yun brings its symphony orchestra to perform at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall next Wednesday, Oct. 26 — giving you exactly one week left to get your tickets.

It’s also sending five separate casts of performing arts troupes to tour the world simultaneously during the 2017 season, including a six-day run in D.C. from Jan. 17-22.

Shen Yun’s mission includes staging vibrant, quality extravaganzas that pull inspiration from thousands of years of Chinese civilization.

The organization’s goals also include a revival of traditional Chinese ideals that some fear are fading into obscurity and might soon be lost.

“‘Shen’ means divine, ‘Yun’ means bearing, understanding, personal understanding, interpretation. Together, Shen Yun means ‘the beauty of divine-being dancing,'” said Dong Xiang with the Falun Dafa Association of Washington D.C. “China has a 5,000 year history … and the spirituality is a very important part of the Chinese culture.”

Those traditions include perceptible manifestations such as music, dance, couture and cuisine.

“But what’s missing is the essence of the culture, which is the respect for the divine,” Xiang said.

Xiang says Communist Party rule in China is responsible for that missing essence.

“When they promote communism, in order to make room for its ideology, they systematically destroyed the traditional culture,” Xiang said. “During the ’60s and ’70s, that is the most notorious part, it’s called Cultural Revolution. The most well-known cultural relics were destroyed … It amounts to the same [as] pulling down the Washington Monument and the destruction of [the] Lincoln Memorial.”

How deep does spirituality run in the culture?

“Spirituality was infused into ancient Chinese society,” Xiang said. “For example, China used to be called the ‘Land of Divine.’ The Chinese people believed Chinese civilization is a gift from the heavens. Therefore, they lived by such principles as truthfulness, compassion, tolerance, wisdom; they believed those are the principles that are given by the gods. So no matter who you are — you could be a scholar, a fisherman, a carpenter — and people just lived their lives according to those principles.”

Shen Yun’s local promoters, who are all committed to reviving those core principles, volunteer their time “to make sure the Shen Yun marketing is successful,” Xiang said.

“We do not make financial gains for promoting Shen Yun,” Xiang said. “On the contrary, many of the volunteers contribute a small portion of personal wealth to make sure the … marketing is successful. Of course, Shen Yun artists are professionals. That’s their life and they’re making a living of it.”

Click here for more information on Shen Yun at the Kennedy Center.

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