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Local host of Shen Yun Performing Arts seeks help

CALGARY— Shen Yun Performing Arts, an acclaimed international performance company, may not return to Calgary’s Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium after suffering escalating unprofessionalism, humiliation, and disrespect at the hands of auditorium management.

Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts has performed to audience acclaim in hundreds of cities internationally since its founding in 2006, and has graced the stages of the world’s most prestigious theaters and opera houses. The company’s mission is to revive the essence of China’s 5,000-year-old traditional culture through classical Chinese dance and music.

Shen Yun has performed annually at the government-owned Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium since 2007. Over the last three years, however, Shen Yun has noted a marked deterioration in the professionalism and conduct of auditorium management. During its April 2012 performances in Calgary, the shows were marred by a glaring technical malfunction and hostility from theater management.

In one incident during the 2012 performances, Jubilee technical staff failed to properly install lighting circuitry for the performance. As a result, during a critical set change that requires stage lights to fade to black, the stage was left illuminated. This caused dancers to scurry off the stage in full view of the audience, which instantaneously ruined the show’s artistic merits. Shen Yun technical staff described this as the most serious technical lapse they have experienced, and the mistake detracted from the experience of thousands of patrons in attendance. While human technical error is forgivable, the problem was exacerbated by the response of Jubilee management, who made no attempt to apologize, and were perfunctory and rude when confronted about the mistake.

Immediately after the April 9th performance, Jubilee stage crew accidentally drew open the doors to the female dancers’ quick-change room while the women were disrobing. Dozens of young women were exposed to the male crewmembers. The experience was mortifying for the women, who seek to embody the traditional Chinese virtues of modesty and humility. When informed of the incident and the offense it had caused, the response of Jubilee management was not one of concern, but of condescension and laughter. The response demonstrated not only a lack of professionalism, but also profound cultural insensitivity.

“Unfortunately, instances like these are not isolated, and are part of a general ambiance of disrespect and unprofessionalism of the management at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium,” says Jenny Yang, a volunteer with the Falun Dafa Association of Calgary, which presents the show.

In 2010, the theater installed a safety net over the orchestra pit after the hosting organization had already signed the contract with the theatre. The net impeded the audience’s view of the orchestra, and hindered the interaction between musicians and on-stage performers. Moreover, the musicians felt disrespected, as it was akin to being displayed in a cage. Shen Yun requested repeatedly that the net be removed. Theater management has responded to this request with intransigence.

Since its inception the Chinese Communist Party has continually sought to impede Shen Yun performances around the world, as the shows seek to revive traditional Chinese culture and values that have been suppressed under Communist rule. Chinese authorities have written letters to elected officials urging them not to support Shen Yun, and have applied pressure to venues not to host the company. The South Alberta Jubilee Auditorium has also faced this pressure. “While we appreciate that the government of Alberta would not overtly discriminate against us at the behest of a foreign government, Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium management appears nonetheless feels they can treat Shen Yun with utter disrespect,” says Yang.

Shen Yun has performed in hundreds of venues across five continents, and has never before refused to perform at a theater due of the unprofessionalism and discourtesy of its staff. Yet unless the Jubilee Auditorium Management resolves to rectify the situation and apologize to Shen Yun, the company will not return to Calgary. “It’s a black eye for our city,” says Yang.

The Calgary-based presenters of Shen Yun have written to the Minister of Culture and Community Spirit, The Honorable Ms. Heather Kimchuk, seeking help to have the issue resolved. The Association is requesting a written apology from Southern Albertan Jubilee management for the above incidents to as well as an agreement that the orchestra net will be removed for all Shen Yun performances.

 Contact: Jenny Yang 403 616 8968

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