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Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui

90012, Downtown Los Angeles

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An evening of dance and evangelism at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Dear ——–,

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was packed, but I’m not sure everyone knew what they were in for. Billed as Chinese cultural show, the night featured plenty of swishing pink ribbons and leaping kicks. But then there were scenes of authoritarian thugs beating up followers of Falun Dafa (another term for Falun Gong) and the words “Falun Dafa is good” projected across the background screen. I don’t know enough to judge whether the group is truly a cult or a new spiritual democratic movement. But they are definitely clever delivering their message. They were embedding the Falun Dafa story — which apparently only started in the 1990s — within a narrative of hundreds of years of self-described “authentic,” classical Chinese history. Chinese people who are proud of their culture are predisposed to feel positively about these dances; non-Chinese people are drawn in by the feathers and silk. Their singers sang arias to a “Lord God,” vocabulary that probably helps make Christians sympathetic to their cause. The whole night was a little confusing, though I did enjoy the erhu segment. For a few minutes, it felt like something genuine.


Author: postmarkhere

I'm a journalist based in Los Angeles who has always said that writing postcards for a living would be a dream job. The posts -- short enough to fit on an actual postcard -- chronicle recent travels near and far. I could blab on about being inspired by epistolary novels, the short poems of Emily Dickinson, and the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" pieces, but I'll just say that I'm aiming to give you a sense of flavor of a place without boring you to death. Wish you were here!

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