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Jet Li claims that when he traveled to the United States during the Cold War to perform at a martial arts exhibition, his handlers instructed him to check the room for bugs by whispering his love for banana splits into a potted plant. When Li returned to his hotel room later that day, he says, dessert was waiting for him. Shen Yun Performing Arts wouldn’t have to worry about NSA supervision even if the Cold War was still going, as the dance troupe includes practitioners of Falun Gong meditation, which has been on the outs with the People’s Republic of China since 1999, when it was banned for opposing the Communist regime. Free from regime control, Shen Yun’s cast of dancers reinvent ancient Chinese culture by melding traditional wardrobes and choreography with world music and contemporary staging, all of it drenched in liberated colors and sounds.

THE PERFORMANCE BEGINS AT 1:30 P.M. AT THE KENNEDY CENTER OPERA HOUSE, 2700 F ST. NW. $39–$150. (202) 467-4600.