March 19, 2018

I kind of feel like I just got scammed. We bought Shen Yun tickets...

I've never been to a show that generated so many bad vibes for me. The whole thing screamed "CULT!" and reminded me of Mormonism. I imagine this is how people feel when they go to a temple open house and get asked for their contact information. Some "oh, that's nice" mixed with "what the heck was that?" and a lot of "this is not what I signed up for".

The show is marketed as a celebration of Chinese culture, some parts seemed alright. The costumes are bright and colorful. The dancing was fun.

But a large part of the show is propaganda for a cult called Falun Dafa (from what I've read, the group is anti-gay, they believe their religion can heal illnesses, and one leader is on record saying they don't believe mixed-race children will get to heaven... sound familiar?).

Here's just a little taste of the unexpected weirdness. After finishing a dance featuring some long, twirly, Han-dynasty sleeves (pretty cool), the person introducing the next piece talks a bit about persecution in China and you move to a dance with this scene: a man is imprisoned and blinded by the evil prison doctor when he won't renounce his faith in Falun Dafa. The blind man's wife and other clean-cut Falun Dafa friends are still preaching in the park when he returns, tapping away with his cane.  When they realize that he has stayed faithful this whole time, he is suddenly visited by a bunch of angels and receives his sight again! Yay! Falun Dafa is good!

So bizarre.

Quite a few of the dances included spiritual imagery mixed with messages about bringing the divine to earth through art. One piece was a song about how humanity's values are in decline and bad people will get their reward, but all of us want to go to Heaven and you can come to the light if you learn truth. The whole thing was covered in a good heap of persecution complex too, though persecution of certain groups has been a pretty big deal in China, so I'll give them a pass on that. They don't deserve brutality. No one does, no matter how crazy their beliefs.

There are some good reviews of the show out there (I liked this one: and I thought this article about it was interesting:

Overall, I don't recommend it and it definitely made me uncomfortable, but it feels like it worked out for us. The first date my husband and I went on was to a Chinese acrobatics show while we were both going to BYU, and we were going to Shen Yun as a sort of anniversary date. We were part of a cult on that first date, and we got suckered into watching cult propaganda on our anniversary date four years later! Perfect.

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