TORONTO—According to Mr. Cheung, Divine Performing Arts helps to remind ethnic Chinese of their traditional values.
The branch manager of a bank in uptown Toronto, Mr. Cheung attended the Divine Performing Arts 2009 World Tour Sunday afternoon. He grew up in Taiwan and came to Canada at the age of 18.
“We learned these stories when we were growing up,” Mr. Cheung said, mentioning as examples the dances “Mulan Joins the Battle” and “Monk Jigong Abducts the Bride” that appear in the show.
“But we’re not accustomed to seeing these stories performed on stage like this . . . It’s really quite marvelous,” Mr. Cheung said, in discussing how Divine Performing Arts had portrayed the classical stories.
“They were able to convey the essence of the story in five minutes, along with the underlying principle in the story. It’s helpful to be reminded of those principles.”
“Mulan Joins the Battle” tells the story of the young Mulan who disguises herself as a man to serve in the military in place of her ailing father, fulfilling the twin Confucian duties of service to one’s country and to one’s parents.
In “Monk Ji Gong Abducts the Bride” a seemingly crazy monk saunters into a village wedding scene to warn the wedding goers of an impending rockslide. Seeing that his exhortations are lost on most villagers, with the exception of one gracious response, Ji Gong comes up with an eccentric solution to the imperiled villagers’ indifference.
“I liked how they took an ancient story and used a modern interpretation, and what they were interpreting was that ancient value or principle.”
The dances are accompanied by state-of-the art digital backdrops that depict authentic ancient scenery. Those backdrops are animated, and integrate closely with the changes in the dance.
Mr. Cheung said the Divine Performing Arts show both reminds Chinese of their traditional values while also providing a good introduction of Chinese culture to Westerners.
“I’d recommend it for anyone,” he said.
Divine Performing Arts New York company will perform two more shows in Toronto, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, before moving onto Montreal and then to New York City for a run at the famed Radio City Music Hall. Two more Divine Performing Arts companies are simultaneously touring other cities. For more information, visit Divine Performing Arts.