Tradition with a Side of Politics

The spectacle put on by Shen Yun Performing Arts is -- and yet isn't -- the usual classical Chinese song and dance. It's carried, on one hand, by an impressive cast of more than 100 dancers, choreographers and live musicians, and boasts a truckload of costumes to die for, plus beautiful sets and projections drawn in a candy shop full of colors. And Shen Yun's goal of encapsulating 5,000 years of lost Chinese culture in an evening's time is a lofty one. But know that it can also surprise audiences with an unexpected political stridency, which is built into the entertainment by its Falun Gong parent organization.

Wherever you stand on the ongoing human-rights battle between the spiritual discipline's followers and the Chinese government, be prepared for a spot of melodramatic proselytizing along with your extravaganza, as it can be a little jarring. But still. There's a lot to enjoy in this spectacular show. Shen Yun brings both ultimate grace and a strong message to the Buell Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in the Denver Performing Arts Complex; for tickets, $50 to $150, call the Shen Yun hotline at 1-888-316-4234. For more on Shen Yun, go to www.shenyun2012.com.
Feb. 22-23, 7:30-10:15 p.m., 2012

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd