Shen Yun, a New York-based troupe that performs ancient Chinese dance, is not welcome in the country whose traditional art forms it showcases.

Shen Yun, a New York-based troupe that performs ancient Chinese dance, is not welcome in the country whose traditional art forms it showcases.

Many of the group's members partake in Falun Gong, a meditative practice that China banned in 1999 because it believes the spiritual movement is politically dangerous.

When Shen Yun booked a show in Hong Kong last year, officials pulled visas from several essential cast members and the shows were canceled, said Lucia Dunn, an economics professor at OSU and faculty adviser for a student group that practices Falun Gong.

There are also stories, she said, of one musician's family member in China being kidnapped because of her association with Shen Yun.

The story of Falun Gong persecution is a part of Shen Yun's show, a fact that the troupe didn't really publicize when it took the stage in 2008, leaving some viewers - expecting a light night out and witnessing, at one point, a choreographed torture scene - kind of upset. (They didn't mind contentious theater, necessarily, just that they weren't warned about it.)

The controversy, though, just makes a pretty show more interesting. The performance (new for 2011) highlights athletic prowess. Dance's most difficult stunts look effortless, and the precision of a stage of people doing traditional movements in unison - in colorful costumes and amid striking sets, no less - is flawless.