Simma Holt just knew that New Tang Dynasty Television's Chinese New Year Spectacular would be superior.
So, without hesitation, she bought 10 tickets and invited some of her favorite people to attend the Spectacular's debut at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver on Wednesday evening.
Holt, a Member of the Order of Canada, says she has a deep understanding and support for NTDTV's purpose—to provide audiences around the world with a historically accurate portrayal of China's semi-divine ancient culture.
"I have been watching them around here and I think they are so wonderful," said Holt. "They care and they are doing it out of love. These people are doing it because they care so much."
This is the fourth annual production for NTDTV, a non-profit, Chinese-language broadcaster established in 2002. After the two shows at the Queen Elizabeth, which were attended by about 5,000 people, the Spectacular will go on to play in 28 cities across North America, Europe and Asia over the next three months.
To be as true to history as possible, the handmade costumes and hand-painted backdrops, the props used in the dances and dramas, and the values portrayed in the acts are all an accurate reflection of the various dynasties in which they originated.
New York-based Zhong Lee, President of New Tang Dynasty TV, said one of the broadcaster's key missions is to "facilitate a renaissance of traditional Chinese culture, its art forms and its folklore."
To that end, NTD avoided including fare from "modern" Chinese culture, such as acrobatics, conjuring acts, comedy skits and Kung Fu—the only type of Chinese New Year's entertainment available for the Chinese diaspora before the Spectacular came along.
In China's 5000-year culture, classic works often included the religious teachings of Buddhism and Daoism. Supernormal phenomena were said to be interspersed with moral lessons, which were frequently adopted by the kings and noblemen of the time and recorded for future generations by court historians.
After the atheist-based Communist Party took power in China in 1949, beliefs and traditions that had been practiced for thousands of years were repressed and replaced with communist party dogma. Many believe this loss has left an aching void in the hearts of the Chinese people—a void NTDTV hopes to fill.
A number of community leaders, foreign consulate representatives, and officials from the three levels of government attended a VIP reception before the show. Calgary MP Rob Anders came all the way from Calgary to experience the Spectacular, believing he could learn something from it.
"I think it is very important for the history of China to be told through a different lens other than the Communist Party lens. And that is what I think is so valuable here," said Anders "I hope that this tradition continues and carries on from year to year and educates people about true traditional Chinese culture as opposed to that of the Chinese propaganda machine."
Mr. Leeshai Lemish and Ms. Mei Zhou, the show's multilingual hosts, provoked more than a few laughs during the evening with their playful antics between acts. At the same time, they provided useful explanations about the legends' inner meanings.
MLA Raj Chouhan said the body language of the performers "was very, very telling to the story – very well done. All the performers did an excellent job. All 16 items were wonderful. I enjoyed each and every one."
NTDTV supports ongoing collaboration with artists from the Fei Tian Dance School, the Lotus and Fu-xing Performing Arts Troupes, all based in New York. The senior artists in the Spectacular include renowned Chinese tenor Guimin Guan and erhuist Ms. Xiaochun Qi. An ancient instrument thought to have originated during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the two-stringed erhu produces a wide range of notes.
"This show is very distinct," MP Peter Julian said after the show. "It is most spectacular. They are all uniformly excellent. The dance, the singing, the musicianship are quite remarkable."
For venues and details upcoming performances, visit NTDTV New Year's Spectacular website at http://newyeargala.ntdtv.com/2007/en/content/view/24/38/lang,en/
The Epoch Times is proud to join with New Tang Dynasty T.V. and Sound of Hope Radio in co-sponsoring NTDTV's Chinese New Year Spectacular. This article is one of a series meant to introduce this unique and important event.