Western audiences are often pleasantly surprised and even lost for words to express the effect of watching New Tang Dynasty's Chinese New Year Spectacular performances. It goes to show that the depth of Chinese culture is easily felt though not always easily verbalised.
Peter Johnson an account manager in the automotive industry who attended Friday night's performance at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney said it "was a very unique cultural experience that I haven't had before, and it was excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
"The range of dance, the singing, it was just, all of it - was very peaceful. It had a very strong cultural theme."
Beth Nasser from Canberra said the dancing "certainly brings you into the culture and tells the story. And it's certainly good to have the explanation before, and watching the dance, watching the movements brings you into the story that they're trying to portray. I think they're doing an excellent job of portraying the story of what is explained to you at the beginning."
The emphasis in Chinese dance is to let the spirit of the dancer lead the movements so that the inner state finds a form of external expression.
"Chinese culture is often said to be semi-divine," said Ms Nasser, "and therefore there is a strong spiritual aspect to the narratives and movements in dance as well as to the melodies."
The extra layers of meaning in Chinese dance add an extra dimension to the enjoyment of the art form while it also adds an extra requirement for the dancers. So that apart from the rigorous physical training, the dancer must also cultivate right conduct so that the thoughts and gestures express a genuine feeling.
"The costumes are just elaborate," remarked Ms Nasser, "and beautiful and show the free movement of the dancers, at the same time bringing the culture into the dance through the costumes."
Particularly Ms Nasser was impressed with "Snowy Mountain, White Lotus," the Tibetan dance where the women wear long white sleeves that represent the khatagh.
Lycia Manche, music teacher enjoyed the dancing element of the Spectacular. "I'm a great fan of the dancing," she said. "I think I like the one when the girl finds her heaven [To the Rightful Place]. The costumes, the colours, it's all good. And the Mongolian Bowl Dance was also very good" .
Via dance, some of China's most revered historical figures are portrayed in the Spectacular. The stories express various virtues which have served as lessons left for posterity. The story of Mulan illustrates courage as well as filial loyalty, wisdom and humility, while the story of Yue Fei is one of uncompromising courage and loyalty to one's country despite all odds. Perhaps the hardest to portray are Buddhas, Dao's and Deities, but the Spectacular does this on numerous occasions, such as in the opening sequence titled "Creation" and "A Dunhuang Dream."
Sydney resident Michelle Bolton thought "A Dunhuang Dream" was special, while the story about "Mulan" was nothing like the Disney version. "The Chinese culture is very serene very peaceful and very calm."
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. )