There are shows, and then there are shows – and according to Divine Performing Arts principal dancer Xuejun Wang, it is ¨purity, heart and sincerity¨ that distinguish New Tang Dynasty Television's (NTDTV) Chinese New Year Spectacular from other shows.
On the eve of their New Zealand tour, Mr Wang spoke candidly about the restricted "heart" in the dancers of today's China. "In Mainland China, the technique they have is amazing, right?. They can do amazing things with their bodies, but what about their minds, their hearts?" he asks. "The Communist Party says you have to do this, do that − propaganda…you have to do something to represent the Communist Party."
Like many artists, Mr Wang left the Chinese mainland to seek a free environment for creative expression without political pressure. "If the dancer [in China] wants to become more themselves they just can't. It's too much pressure...That's why 15 years ago I left China; I don't want to do that, I want freedom," he said.
Within the Spectacular there are numerous stories told through dance, artistically espousing ancient Chinese virtues and cultural beliefs. In one story, "The Loyalty of Yue Fei", Mr Wang plays the lead role of Yue Fei, a noble hero and famous Chinese general, renowned for his contribution to the country. Although the story has been rewritten in modern times to reflect political ideology, the original story is about loyalty and respect – values that are at the heart of traditional Chinese culture.
According to Mr Wang, the role requires him to portray the principles of "benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, faithfulness". ¨You need to express his character well. It depends on your heart, to express the feeling through movements," he said.
With all aspects combined, the Spectacular is complete, says Mr Wang. "If you have a good product, everything has to be good, not just one thing − the dance pieces, the music, the costumes, lighting, background drops − all has to be working together; then you can say it's perfect."
Mr Wang is a former principal dancer with the Sydney Dance Company, performing leading roles such as Kid Lefty in Louis Falco's "Black and Blue", the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast" and principal roles in Graeme Murphy's work – "Ellipse", "Air and Other Invisible Forces", "Berlin", "Free Radicals", "The Protecting Veil" and "Body of Work". With the Sydney Dance Company, Mr Wang has performed in Europe, North America, Mexico, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
The main force behind the Chinese New Year Spectacular is the Divine Performing Arts. Its mission is to explore and to rediscover the essence of true, traditional culture. Thus it creates and performs pieces that centre primarily around classical themes and divinely-inspired culture, aiming to present to audiences works that express pure goodness and beauty.