Dance Students Inspired By Enchanting Ancient Culture

February 9, 2009 9:10 am Last Updated: February 11, 2009 12:12 am

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Sisters Brigette and Adrienne Armato came to the Divine Performing Arts (DPA) performance in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Feb. 9, not knowing what to expect, but found inspiration.

DPA is a triumph of collaboration, bringing together leading dancers, choreographers, and musicians from around the world and breaks new ground by focusing on the authentic cultural heritage of classical China.

Both of the Armatos are theater and dance students at the University of Arkansas. They were deeply impressed with the movements of the dancers and how they were able to portray the traditional elements and philosophy of ancient Chinese culture. Although the sisters study Western styles of dance, they found the new world of traditional Eastern style dance to be enchanting.

“It was different but it was interesting. It told a story—I loved that. I think I like the traditional best! It's very exciting watching this. All the dancers and their movements … it was just amazing," said Adrienne.

In particular, Adrienne enjoyed the piece Welcoming Spring, in which the dancers' exuberant spirits mark the season and personifies China's folk dance tradition. Both the dancers quick footwork and their snapping of fans allows bursts of colors to create a festive, floral scene.

"I love the fans in the springtime [scene]," Adrienne explained. "You could see the flowers opening and the butterflies moving. It was great, I loved it!” Adrienne raved.

Brigette found her inspiration elsewhere. Like a pivotal event in Little Rock history, Brigette found her inspiration in a testament to bravery in the face of persecution.

In 1975 the Little Rock Nine, nine Black children, by federal order attempted to integrate the all-white Central High School. Governor Orval Faubus told the Arkansas National Guard to keep them out. They did for one day.

On the second day, one of the nine, Elizabeth Eckford arrived alone and was threatened by an angry mob. Nonetheless, the students attended the school despite persecution, and today Little Rock has a museum devoted to the events of that year.
Brigette was touched by a particularly moving scene in the show called Heaven Awaits Us Despite Persecution, which tells the tale of a father who is persecuted for practising Falun Gong, an ancient meditation practice that follows the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Tolerance. Despite its peaceful nature, it has faced persecution by the Chinese communist regime for the past nine years. The scene depicts the father ascending to heaven after being persecuted and presents a longstanding Chinese belief that good people are ultimately rewarded, even if not in this lifetime.

Brigette commented: “We should have more values like that. I really enjoyed it … Even though he died, it was showing that he was still a good person so he went to heaven. I really loved that.”

Traditional Chinese culture revolved around a belief in the divine and the importance of cultivating virtue. According to the show’s program: “The guiding mission of Divine Performing Arts is to rediscover and renew humanity’s true, rightful cultural heritage. The company thus creates and performs works that center upon the true, divinely bestowed culture of humankind, and seeks to provide an experience of consummate beauty and goodness.”

With writing by NTDTV, a media partner of The Epoch Times.

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