Dinner at D’Amico’s Kitchen at the Chamber’s Hotel. Walked across the street in balmy weather (March 10th!) to the Orpheum Theatre and saw a long propaganda piece for Falun Dafa presented by Shun Yen Performing Arts. Didn’t know that’s what it would be, but that’s what it was.
I don’t like being proselytized, especially paying $90 a ticket for it. Having said that there was astounding athleticism and dancing.
It made me think, again, about the difference between China and the US. What it means to have an old world power ascendant and the youngest world power ever still on the stage. We’re different in many and profound ways yet I believe in the end our goals are similar: a stable international economy, world trade flourishing and not having our internal affairs dictated to us by outsiders.
Kate and I had a memorable 22nd anniversary with a quiet meal and an interesting evening. So lucky to have met her.
Shun Yen and Falun Gong, once more
One more thing about Shun Yen (see below). Their pitch is that they produce performances that draw on and therefore promote 5,000 years of Chinese culture. Maybe. They have dances based on various Chinese myths and legends, like Monkey’s Journey to the West, and on ethnic Chinese communities, but there are also contemporary dance pieces and, scattered throughout something very, very odd.
The contemporary pieces feature a common theme. Black clad police thugs with red hammer and sickle insignia on their shirts. They beat senseless the gentle, meditating citizens who hold up a sign that says Falun Dafa is Good. Yes, Chinese police have beaten Falun Dafa or Falun Gong members and persecuted them. That’s not at issue here, but, again, I paid $90 a ticket to see several dance numbers that were propaganda against the Chinese government.
There was no balance here, no context, no alerting the audience to the fact that this was their intention.
These vignettes, I think there were four, were not the oddest part of the evening however. Four times during the performance the dancers would remain off stage and a Steinway, a big black concert Steinway, and either a tuxedoed male singer or a formal gown clad female singer, all Chinese, would sing short verses, maybe they were songs, that declared some piece of Falun Dafa dogma.
Shun Yen pitches themselves as promoting 5,000 years of Chinese culture, yet they present their most important numbers (based on their intentions) in an almost absurd parody of Western classical song-poems. They struck a very dissonant note to this audience member.
While I’m no fan of the oppressive side of the Chinese government, the campaign to free Ai Weiwei in evidence, there is a part of Chinese history that few westerns know about that goes a long toward explaining the Chinese attitude toward Falun Gong. The Taiping Rebellion.
Here’s a one paragraph introduction: The Taiping Rebellion referred to as the Tai Ping Tian Guo in Chinese 太平天囯 ( 太 Tai-’Great’ ,平 Ping – ‘Peace’, 天 Tian-”Heaven’, 囯 Guo-’Country or Kingdom’ ) the ’Kingdom of Heavenly Peace’, was one of the bloodiest civil wars in history between the Qing Dynasty and the Chinese ‘Christian’ rebels, led by Hong Xiuquan ( old spelling Hung Hsiu-ch’uan ) who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, chosen by God to establish a heavenly kingdom upon earth and replace the corrupt Manchu Qing dynasty.The conflict, which took place mostly in south China , the Yangtze valley and in the Shanghai and Nanjing area, killed an estimated from 20,000,000 to 100,000,000 people killed (largely due to famine and wholesale slaughter of captured armies and cities which resisted ) . According to the census of 1851 there were 432 million in China. The next census of 1911 shows 375 to 400 million, which shows the staggering impact of the rebellions and natural disasters that beset China . There were other rebellions against the Qing such as the Nian and Muslim rebellions,but the Taiping rebellion was the largest in scale and came closest to toppling the Qing Dynasty.
I sympathize with the Chinese government in this regard; I found Shun Yen’s Falun Gong pitch annoying and arrogant.