To the [E]ditor:
In Kate Dobbs Ariail’s review of the Divine Performing Arts (DPA) show at the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham on Dec. 28, we are surprised by her preoccupation of the Falun Gong content in the show. Ms. Ariail also criticized the show’s “thinly disguised” celebration of traditional Chinese arts, but unfortunately, she never does explain what constitutes authentic Chinese culture.
Regarding the word “Divine” in DPA’s name, the land of ancient China was once called “Shen Zhou” or “The Land of the Divine,” because the ancient Chinese believed that Chinese culture was a precious gift from the heavens — in other words, Chinese culture was “divinely bestowed.” This fact was even mentioned in the show by the emcees. This is the actual connotation and background behind the word “Divine” in “Divine Performing Arts.”
Spirituality is the essence of traditional Chinese culture. At the peak of China’s “golden age” in the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism flourished, along with the “divine” arts and sciences. These spiritual beliefs were also portrayed and referenced in the DPA show, yet Ms. Ariail never mentioned them but focused on Falun Gong.
As for Falun Gong, DPA has never disavowed its connection to the spiritual practice. In DPA’s flyer, they said they are proud to include Falun Gong practitioners as performers in the show. The North Carolina Falun Dafa Association is listed as the sponsor in N.C. Even a quick Google search would yield many positive audience feedback about the Falun Gong content from past shows.
Renowned human rights lawyer (a Christian) Mr. Gao Zhisheng, now incarcerated in China, expressed in a letter to the Chinese regime leadership about Falun Gong: “In contrast to the current situation where the humanity, conscience, morality, compassion, and responsibility of our society is suffering an overall deterioration, these cultivators, as a group reborn from the old nation, have impacted all of these areas in a positive way. One can feel the powerful way in which faith can change one’s soul. Indeed it has allowed me to see a spark of hope for rescuing our nation from its current depraved state.”
During the nineties before the tragic persecution began, 1 out of 12 Chinese practiced Falun Gong, and observers called the practice a revival of traditional Chinese morality. Shouldn’t DPA be commended for including Falun Gong as part of its portrayal of traditional Chinese culture from ancient to modern? Falun Gong may be relatively new in the public’s eye, but the practice is indeed deeply rooted in and reflects ancient Chinese traditions and values.
As for being “political,” this word has been used by the Chinese regime as a label to stigmatize its opponents and anyone who takes part in an activity that it does not control. This term has been one of the foundation blocks of Chinese communist propaganda.
Several VIPs were at the show including retired UNC law professor Dan Pollitt who taught free speech. He said after the show, “I think China is making a big mistake when it tries to prevent people from talking about their religion. It doesn’t hurt anybody … so leave it alone.” ( None of the VIPs interviewed commented that the show was “political.”
As for Ms. Ariail critique of the show’s presentation, we will leave it up to the audience to decide, especially the performing arts community. Almost 90 percent surveyed in the Durham show said they would attend the show again next season. DPA’s media partners have compiled hundred if not thousands of audience interviews, especially with arts professionals, from each show around the world over the past 2 years. Comments, including those from reputed singers, dancers and artists, have been overwhelmingly positive concerning the DPA shows. Please see this year’s 2009 World Tour audience comments (updated after every show) at:
Perhaps the best testimonies to the DPA shows are comments from Chinese themselves who were able to attend the show. They often brim with pride and the typical comment is that you can’t even see a show like this in China. Again, compiled post-show interviews are at the above web address.
In this context, the Falun Gong content in the DPA show is not to proselytize but to celebrate the renaissance of traditional Chinese culture. It is to celebrate the spirituality and freedom of the spirit that are the essence of Chinese culture. It is to portray the triumph of the spirit and faith in righteousness — values that run in ancient Chinese traditional beliefs, whether Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism or Falun Gong.
We strongly request that the Classical Voice of North Carolina remove Ms. Ariail’s review of the DPA performance. This article misleads the readers and lacks factual support. Moreover, if this article remains online, it may be quoted by the Chinese communist regime as part of its propaganda against Falun Gong.
Amy Cheng and Al Whitted
N.C. Falun Dafa Association
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*Editor’s Note: The presenter has made so many objections for so long – even complaining that the review they dislike so much is now archived – that I have decided to collect here the few available items that, like our dance critic’s review, suggest that DPA is not the pure, “divine” celebration of Chinese culture and history it says it is – that it is, instead, a slick albeit tacky front and cash machine for the Falun Gong and its adherents, including its US television and print media operations – folks who would suppress American rights and freedom of expression in favor of what they perceive might happen in China as a result of these publications in the US. They are of course entitled ot their opinion – and we, to ours. In my view, the Falun Dafa folks are every bit as oppressive – and offensive, really – as the militant Chinese communists against whom they rail. So with that in mind, here’s a random collection of views on DPA’s “show.” The N.C. Falun Dafa Association’s representatives are welcome to object, and we’ll be glad to air their letters, as we’ve repeatedly offered to do. For reasons known only to them, they’ve repeatedly declined to let us do so. Enough, already.

John W. Lambert, Executive Editor (3/3/09)

PS These folks give hundreds of performances every year, with several touring companies. Is it not strange that there are virtually no reviews, aside from puff pieces in their own media outlets? What’s going on here? Manipulation of the US press for Falun Dafa/Gong propaganda purposes? Food for thought….
Finally, in the interest of “equal time,” here’s a blurb from the Chinese Embassy. (And do recall that the Chinese are now our friends….)