Years ago, Leonore and I saw a performance of very old Chinese dances and music, all done in period costumes. It was wonderful, and we've been on the lookout for anything similar. So when we saw a flyer for a performance of traditional Chinese dance by an organization called Divine Performing Arts, we were hooked in advance. The flyer did mention that the organization was connected with the Falun Gong, a.k.a Falun Dafa, movement, and that gave me pause because I don't like contributing money to religions, but I rationalized that away, and we ordered a couple of pricey tickets.
The performance was last night, January 31, at the Temple Buell Theater in Denver, which has been renovated into an excellent performing space. Our seats were good ones. The costumes were beautiful, the dances were enjoyable, the music was entrancing. But the whole purpose of the night's entertainment, it turned out, was to preach the wonders of Falun Gong and the salvation it represents for humanity. As the evening progressed, dance receded into the background and religious proselytization increasingly became the focus of the performance.
There were a few songs, lamely performed, with lyrics about the wonderfulness of Falun Gong and, in one case, the evil dangers of atheism. (All sung in Mandarin, but with the English translation projected on a screen behind the singers.) We noticed that the applause kept diminishing throughout the evening, especially after that song. In my own case, it became nonexistent.
Here are some other opinions about this traveling show. The first is from the Chinese government. It's hard to take anything from that source seriously, though, given that China is ruled by a gang of thugs whose treatment of Falun Gong members is horrifying. But here are the opinions of a couple of bloggers, one in Canada and the other in London. Their reactions were the same as ours. After the performance, we chatted with a couple who had been seated behind us. They were very upset. The husband said he hadn't spent that much money to be proselytized. The wife, a Chinese American, seemed deeply angry and said she feared that an American audience would think that this really represented Chinese culture.
The hosts (a man and a woman who engaged in lame scripted banter) urged us a few times to tell our friends in other cities about the show. So that's what I'm doing with this post. Don't waste your money.