Shen Yun’s legacy

May 6, 2022

Plastered on posters, magazines, and even billboards, advertising for Shen Yun can be seen almost anywhere. 

The Shen Yun Performing Arts organization was founded in 2006 in New York’s Hudson Valley. They first started performing in 2007, and have since expanded to six groups and roughly 480 performers. Shen Yun aims to revive traditional Chinese culture after decades of communist rule, which Shen Yun believes they have substantially destroyed.

Their dancers trained at the Fei Tian Academy of the Arts and Fei Tian College in New York, which are closely associated with Shen Yun.

Shen Yun is operated and funded by the Chinese religious and spiritual movement Falun Gong. The movement values truth, kindness and self-restraint through various exercises, including meditation and traditional Chinese qigong exercises. Also known as Falun Dafa, the movement was founded in 1992 by Li Hongzhi. He currently resides at the movement’s headquarters, Dragon Springs, a religious refuge for tens of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in upstate New York.

Shen Yun has received some controversy for including Falun Gong’s religious views within their show, which opposed evolutionism and atheism. In their pursuit to portray the oppression the Chinese government imposes on its people, Shen Yun depicts the persecution of Falun Gong followers in their shows. Falun Gong insists that China has killed thousands of its practitioners, citing numerous human rights abuses. Although disputed, they claim that China has harvested organs from imprisoned Falun Gong adherents.

Chinese embassies have also sought to shut down Shen Yun performances in many countries because they believe the performances are cultist and attacks against the Chinese government. 

Shen Yun has been amid controversy in both the nature of its performances and from the spiritual movement organizing it.

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