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The Shen Yun dance troupe and Falun Gong: What you need to know if your program’s teachers come from China

October 12, 2019

Screen Shot 2018-09-05 at 11.35.39 AMI have no opinions on Falun Gong myself (so please don’t email about it!). I’m reposting this because every year many Mandarin immersion programs get sent fancy, full-color brochures about the Shen Yun Performing Arts troupe if it’s presenting anywhere near them.

The group performs Chinese classical dance, though the final piece is often somewhat political and focuses on the persecution of Falun Gong members in China (which can make it a little scary for small children.)

I’ve heard people object to Shen Yun’s statement that it is “reviving” Classical Chinese culture, as if it were dead everywhere but in their troupe. But that’s not the issue I wanted to address here.

What I do want to pass along is something that many parents don’t realize —  there’s a  connection between Falun Gong (a spiritual practice group that’s banned in China) and Shen Yun. That’s important if your program has  teachers from China in your schools, as you might  be mystified about how those teachers could react to being invited to the performances.

I know one mom who bought two tickets to a performance and gave it to her child’s teacher as a present, but was confused at the teacher’s immediate return of the ticket and mumbled explanation that it wasn’t appropriate. The mom was worried she’d somehow offended the teacher because they’re pricey. But it turned out — after some behind the scenes discussions — that the teacher, who was on a two-year contract through Hanban in China, was worried she’d get in trouble if she attended such a performance.

So a little bit of background might help. I have no idea if it actually has been an issue for teachers from China, as I’ve only heard the one story, but in the interest of passing along information that might be useful, I’ve collected links to various newspaper and magainze stories. I know I myself was initially mystified about what was going on when the issue came up at our school.

Note that if you google “Shun Yun” you’ll find dozens of extremely supportive article from The Epoch Times. Here, too, it’s worth noting that the newspaper is connected with Falun Gong.

Here are some articles that might be useful to those trying to understand the ins and outs of all this:


Stepping Into the Uncanny, Unsettling World of Shen Yun
Does the ubiquitous dance troupe really present five thousand years of civilization reborn?

Please read more here.

How Shen Fun has become a meme.

Just How Big Is Shen Yun’s Marketing Budget?

You’ve seen the mailers. And billboards. And TV ads. We asked experts for insight into the Chinese dance troupe’s blitz

The traditional Chinese dance troupe China doesn’t want you to see

Shen Yun seems like a kitsch dance troupe. But Beijing sees it as the propaganda wing of the Falun Gong movement, and a threat to their rule – and hounds the dancers from city to city, trying to sabotage their shows. By

Falun Gong still worries China, despite efforts to crush the sect

In China the movement sputters on. Abroad its profile grows


One Comment leave one →
  1. Susan Banks permalink
    October 12, 2019 12:51 pm

    Wow, I did not know that. In fact, one of our Mandarin teachers commented that it might be a great performance for “us,” but I wasn’t sure if she meant us staff or the students. At the time, we were about to attend a teachers’ night out event at the Kennedy Center and it happened to be to a Chinese Opera that was not related to Shen Yun. I wonder if it wasn’t significant to our teacher due to her young age? I don’t know, but I’m more curious now.

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