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Chinese Traditions Take Centre Stage– New Year Show Combines Ancient And Modern With Spectacular Pageantry

Posted by Author on January 15, 2008

By DENIS ARMSTRONG, the Ottawa Sun, Canada, Sat, January 12, 2008-

China’s former leader Chairman Mao couldn’t stand public holidays.

He thought they distracted the people from the sober utopia of the communist revolution. So Mao and his Gang of Four eliminated New Year’s, or any celebrations that might inspire pleasure or national pride, during the cultural revolution between 1966-1976.

But since trading Mao’s communism for some western-style capitalism, the Chinese have been not-so quietly reviving their holiday traditions in spectacular style.

To bring in the new Year of the Rat (which begins officially on the Chinese calendar on Feb. 7), New Tang Dynasty Television is throwing a Chinese New Year Spectacular, an Olympic-sized pageant of 100 dancers and musicians including a live symphony orchestra at the National Arts Centre, Sunday and Monday (in Ottawa).

The wholesome, family-friendly musical revives cultural holiday traditions, some dating back 5,000 years, which had all but been forgotten. Stylized ancient dances, Chinese and western orchestral music and fable storytelling with state-of-the-art digital video and live animation blend in an epic tale of good versus evil meant for both Chinese and Western audiences.

“We are trying to revive the culture and courageous spirit of the country,” explained the show’s local coordinator Jean Zhi. “We want to celebrate a traditional Asian way of life in which the family is central.”

BEAUTIFUL PICTURE

“As long as the curtain is raised, you see a perfectly beautiful picture,” Zhi adds. “The music and movement are gentle but there is also choreography based on martial arts, taken from ancient dynasties that have been thoroughly researched. Many of our cultural traditions were lost during the cultural revolution. We’re proud of our heritage and want to share it with the rest of the world.”

After generations of cultural repression, it’s not surprising that the show is both extravagant and a showcase for unabashed national pride.

Zhi notes that China’s historic transformation into one of the globe’s dominant economies and being chosen to host the 2010 Olympics has caused a renaissance in Chinese arts, and finally they’ve begun ramping up their cultural exports. Performed by the New York-based Divine Performing Arts Company, the multi-lingual show has become a popular annual holiday event in 34 cities worldwide, including Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton since it began touring 2004. Ottawa was added to the tour in 2007.

“Good values are universal,” Zhi concludes.

A complete program is listed on the show’s website at http://bestchineseshows.com/

Tickets for “Chinese New Year Spectacular” are $158-$38 at the NAC box-office and online at www.nac-cna.ca and www.ticketmaster.ca

Original report from the Ottawa Sun

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