New York Audience Learns of the Need for Freedom in China (Photos)

( Shen Yun finished a ten-show engagement at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on Sunday, Jan. 16. The New York audience was amazed by the performances, and the final performance was held before a sold out audience.

Attorney John Messer and his wife Wendy

A major theme that was brought up by many audience members was the persecution of Falun Gong and the need for freedom: freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Attorney John Messer attended with his wife. After seeing the dances depicting the current persecution that is inflicted by the ruling communist regime, he said, “You came away knowing that certain atrocities still exist, but they also did it in a way that was beautiful.” Mr. Messer went on to reflect on how lucky he feels Americans are to live in a country where they can freely express themselves without fear of reprisal. “It’s a dichotomy: they [Shen Yun artists] show the beauty of the tradition and of the history, and [also that] there is another side to history in China,” he said.”They’re doing it in a way that people know that it [persecution] still exists,” he said. “It came through very clear and balanced.”

Hassan El Garrahy, owner of Orsay and other restaurants in New York.

There was also a greater appreciation for the opportunity that we in the States have. Mr. Hassan El Garrahy said, “It is a beautiful thing that at least we here in New York can see it… Unfortunately, it is not being done in China, but I hope one day they get to do it, [and] let people practice what they believe,” he added, referring to scenes in which Falun Dafa practitioners continue boldly with their spiritual practice in spite of persecution by the Chinese regime. Mr. Garrahy’s wife also understood this plight of modern Chinese society from firsthand experience. “I have been in China; I understand what they are going through—and it is just so beautiful to see that they are fighting for what they believe in,” said Mrs. Garrahy.

Mr. Kamal Ghosh, owner of a leather import/export business, has traveled all over the world.

Mr. Kamal Ghosh commented that he felt it was a tragedy that Shen Yun is unable to travel to mainland China, saying, “people should have freedom. Freedom is essential; if you restrict freedom then the best in you doesn’t come out. Whether you are an artist, a scientist … freedom is important.” He hopes one day the Chinese people will be able to enjoy the revival of their long-lost traditions: “Send it to China, send it to Beijing. [They] must know what people think in the world.”

Martha Flores-Vasquez serves as the district leader, she has acted on behalf of the residents of her community to work with local politicians in Flushing, Queens

Ms. Martha Flores-Vasquez said she was particularly impressed by the dances that touched on the themes of persecution and lack of freedom in China today, including a dance that addressed the persecution of practitioners of the Falun Dafa spiritual discipline. One such piece is titled Our Story. It tells of a teacher who guides her pupils not just in the art of writing, but in life as a whole. One day the teacher writes the Chinese characters for “truth,” “benevolence,” and “forbearance” on the blackboard. These three words, which were once essential values in classical China, are central to Falun Dafa. Soon, state police burst into her classroom and take her away. Her students, who support her, are ultimately rewarded for their courage.

“The persecution should have never happened—it should not be going on. And I think that with this program it’s able to get that message out there to more people so they can see what’s going on. There’s a lot of beauty in their culture and they shouldn’t be suffering this way,” said Ms. Flores-Vasquez.

She also has a personal connection to the topic. “It’s very emotional because my friend Jane [Dai], for example, she lost her husband. So it’s very touching when you have an experience first hand.”

Jane Dai’s husband was beaten to death in China in 2001 simply because he practiced Falun Gong; his body was later dumped in a field. He left behind Ms. Dai and their baby daughter, who learned of his death through an Internet posting. Ms. Flores-Vasquez was also impressed by the Shen Yun artists’ ability to address the difficult theme and present it with inspiration and integrity. “They’re very special. The inspiration that they bring, and how they can turn something hateful into something so beautiful, and continue to move onward with integrity—I think that’s really beautiful, magnificent,” she added.


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