Shen Yun has great PR! I've been seeing great reviews on Shen Yun for some time and when it came to the Sacramento, California area I jumped quickly to buy some tickets. The tickets weren't cheap I spend $240 for two seats in Row N (I assume they start in Row A) smack in the center and we definitely had a good view of the performance. That I won't complain about. The Sacramento Community Center Theater holds 2,398 people and from my observation it looked like it was sold out.
The performance started timely and the initial dancers were very good. After the first dance two MC's came on stage and introduced the performances in English and Chinese. The following dancer's were very good also and they used some high tech blending of animation with the dancers to make spectacular stories. But... not far into the performance we started to get the religious message which was of their belief in "FaLun Dafa" probably better known as "FaLun Gong". I don't actually think they used the word Falun Gong. They started off talking about "Dafa" and talking about the persecution of their religion in China.
The story of FaLun Gong is very similar to the tale of Joseph Smith and the Mormons - a cult leader whose members get ostracized, beaten and chased away to the promised land - Utah in the case of the Mormons and the USA for the leader of FaLun Gong. Both groups end up spreading worldwide with their organizations making lots of money.
They also talked about how they couldn't have their performance in mainland China because of their beliefs. Well, Falun Gong is outlawed in China. It's not a surprise that they can't show it there especially when several of the dances have scenes of "government" bad guys beating the "good" Falun Gongers. In one of the final dances there was someone holding a banner of Chinese characters that read "Falun Dafa is good". Most Americans can't read Chinese but I can read a little and I understood what the banner said.
So my disappointment lies in the fact that I paid good money to be entertained and ended up seeing a performance that tried to make me sympathetic to their religion. It's like getting pulled into a Church and being forced to sit through Bible lectures when you really don't want to be there and have no interest in it. Don't get me wrong. People can believe what they want to. Just don't lie to me about what you're trying to do so you can force me to sit through it.
In the case of Shen Yun they should be up front that they want people to be sympathetic to their cause and they want to convert you and they also want to make money off you while you get indoctrinated with their message. If Falun Gong is as sneaky and dishonest about spreading their message in China as they are here, maybe that's why the Chinese Government doesn't like them.
So my recommendation is that if you are considering going be well advised that there will be attempts to convert you to their belief system and you will have to listen to their propaganda.
And by the way, contrary to their statement that you won't see a performance this good anywhere else, there are better dance troupes from mainland China that come through the US. Watch for them. They will entertain you and not try to convert you.