Australian audiences are finally grasping the beauty and subtlety of Eastern performance art, if the enthusiastic response to NTDTV's Chinese New Year Spectacular in Melbourne is anything to go by.
Eastern performance art is less precise and narrative-driven than Western arts, according to producers of the show. Instead, it focuses more on the subtle, the implied and a freer form of expression to indicate the inner world. This may make Eastern performances less accessible to a Western mind, but Melbourne audiences have been ecstatic about the Spectacular.
Ms Bev Brock, former wife of Australian racing car driver Peter Brock, said she was very impressed by the show and felt that it took her "into a surreal state". She said that she experienced a feeling of lightness while watching the dancers and described the costumes as "heavenly" and "divine". "Everybody has an internal expression and that's what the dance is doing – living that expression," she said.
Ms Brock was not alone in her appreciation of the depth and subtlety exhibited by the performers in the Spectacular. Mark Edmonds, now retired, said the show was very good. "There should be more of it!" he said. "I think the Chinese have a lot deeper meaning in life...relating life back to the Earth and what's above, than we do in Australia."
Carla Steiner took the minimalist approach, describing it simply as "art for the soul", while Stuart Williams, director of the Box Hill Multicultural Community Centre, said: "This sort of mystical mysticism is something, as Westerners, I don't think we have in our culture."
Mr Williams said that he had over 19 different nationalities attending his centre in Box Hill, Victoria, making it even more important for him to appreciate and understand different cultures. He said he had been to Tibet recently and the Snowy Mountain dance depicting the mountain landscape of Tibet was very close to what he had experienced there. However, he felt that the Spectacular showed him that he still had a long way to go to understand the depth and diversity of Chinese culture. "I am just starting to learn and appreciate that," he said.
One of the two presenters of the show, Kelly Wen from Toronto, also trained for the Tibetan Snowy Mountain dance. She commented: "Tibetan dance is very beautiful, it really captures the culture of Tibet, their purity, their warmth and just to do that dance, at first is very tiring, learning about how the sleeve moves. But after a while you get used to it and it becomes much more smooth. Actually, Chinese dance is about fine details. The movements are all very gradual and transitional, and no matter how elegant it is, it will always gracefully glide into the next movement. That's basically a fundamental aspect of all kinds of ethnicities."
Janina Harding, from the Torres Straits [an island group in the northern reaches of Australia between Papua New Guinea and the mainland], was also touched by the show. She said she found many common connections, despite the broader cultural differences.
"I thought the colours and the dance was very graceful and beautiful," she said. "There are similarities in the Aboriginal and Chinese cultures – that being the spirituality and humbleness of the people."
Ms Harding, whose family comes from a small island community of only 200 people, manages an Indigenous arts programme in Melbourne. She said she was very familiar with the plight of Indigenous people in Australia and could relate to many of the issues presented in the show.
"I go back to my homeland and I know a lot about Aboriginal culture here in Australia," she said. "I felt there were similarities in the concert relating to the pain and how my people also suffered."
In essence, there is a certain multifaceted perspective of the show and there are elements that are meaningful for everyone. The Divine Performing Arts group serves as the artistic force behind New Tang Dynasty Television's Holiday Wonders and Chinese New Year Spectacular shows each year. Its mission is to rediscover the essence of true, traditional culture and to bring arts to the world that celebrate human dignity and positive values. It thus produces and performs works that centre on classical themes and divinely-inspired cultural traditions. The group's performances aim to provide an experience of consummate beauty and goodness.
The Epoch Times is proud to join with New Tang Dynasty TV and Sound of Hope Radio in co-sponsoring NTDTV's Chinese New Year Spectacular ( http://shows.ntdtv.com. )