AUCKLAND, New Zealand—Maori Performing Arts Ambassador Tui-Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield was profoundly moved by Shen Yun Performing Arts Touring Company’s expression of the authentic Chinese culture.
Ms. Ranapiri-Ransfield travelled three hours north of Rotorua, New Zealand’s centre of Maori culture, especially to see the Friday evening opening performance on Feb. 8.
As a leader of the Maori performing arts, Ms. Ranapiri-Ransfield is very interested in and appreciates the value of all traditional cultures.
She came to see classical Chinese dancing techniques and to observe the choreography. Shen Yun’s orchestra and the three vocalists, who were accompanied by piano, were also an attraction for the Maori leader who, herself, is an accomplished soprano.
“So the dancing this evening comes from a traditional, ancient performing arts background and I was keen to come along and witness that for myself,” she said.
New York-based Shen Yun is restoring the authentic Chinese cultural traditions through Chinese classical dance that is rounded out with a myriad of folk and ethnic dances. The dances are accompanied by musical scores from an orchestra that treats the audience to a unique combination of Western and Eastern instruments.
“The show this evening was exquisite, it was superb, it was moving,” said Ms. Ranapiri-Ransfield.
She liked how the programme presented the dances in their true form. “It honours a heritage.”
“I see the discipline, I see the hard work and I see beauty in the performance. The synchronisation was just beautiful, classy and soft—it was a reflection of a culture and its history.
“It was a reflection of the Falun Dafa philosophy about truth and compassion and tolerance and I see that in the dancing.”
Ms. Ranapiri-Ransfield was speaking of the difficulties faced by the spiritual meditational group, Falun Dafa, whose tribulations were portrayed by the performers in the dance An Unexpected Encounter.
“So not only do you talk about [Chinese] history or depict parts of history of cruelty, I also saw the beautiful things that we are able to appreciate and have gratitude towards in life.”
In fact, the dance of the Phoenix Fairies, delighted the performing arts leader greatly. In this dance, phoenix maidens soar gracefully with dance movements that “echo the endless depths of a star speckled sky,” says Shen Yun’s programme book. .
The portrayal of the phoenix, an ancient bird symbolising rebirth, was “extraordinary,” said Ms. Ranapiri-Ransfield. She spoke many times of the way Shen Yun presented messages of a culture that are “meaningful things” other than “torture and pain and sadness.”
Ms. Ranapiri-Ransfield is a daughter of Te Arawa, one of seven major tribes in New Zealand. She has travelled the world as an ambassador of the Maori cultural arts and is currently working as a teacher and researcher on various projects for her people.
Reporting by NTD Television and Diane Cordemans
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has three touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit ShenYunPerformingArts.org
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