NTDTV’s three performance-run of its Chinese New Year Spectacular finished amidst thunderous applause at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco this past weekend. It seems that the audience agrees with the show’s title.
“It’s truly spectacular,” said Ken Bukowski of Emeryville on his way out of the War Memorial Opera House. “I’ve been to many shows, but this is truly refreshing,” added Bukowski. “I love the music. I love the Erhu. I love the dance. I love the drum. I just love it.”
The Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows marked the third year NTDTV has brought this cultural banquet to the Bay Area. This is the first time, however, that this show was hosted in the Fog City. The Spectacular is a traveling show that will appear next in Los Angeles on Jan. 9 and 10.
The show reflects traditional Chinese culture, and aims to please its audiences with vivid costumes, intricate dances, and entertaining hosts. The show began with a performance called “The Vows of Old” to reflect the theme of the show: Myths and Legends, in which celestial beings were asked who was willing to descend to the earth to help humankind when calamities came. Dancing maidens celebrate the valor of those who volunteered, symbolically crowning them with laurels.
Some of the shows, such as the “Ladies of the Manchu Court” performed by the Fei Tian Dance School, were also eye-opening for the Chinese members of the audience. In the dance, members of the Manchu court danced with Manchu-style music while wearing the horse shoes. “Being Chinese, I’ve never seen something like this,” commented Mr. Liu, a San Francisco resident. “They walked and danced slowly but they were so elegant. In mainland China, Manchu has negative connotation to it. I’m almost shocked to see so much graceful dancing and such good music. You don’t see it in mainland China.”
Professor Patrick Hunt of the Stanford University Classics Department loved the Erhu music, a traditional Chinese instrument sometimes referred to as the Chinese two-string fiddle. “I have no doubt that the audience will have much deeper understanding of the Chinese culture,” he said.
“I love the Harp music,” said Danette Hayes from Santa Clara. The music was played by 13-year-old San Francisco native Seika Dong. She played “Etude de Concert” Op. 193 by Felix Godefroid and “Blossoming of the Udumbara Flowers” by Linda Wood Rollo. “Blossoming of the Udumbara Flowers” refers to the udumbara flowers which have blossomed on the faces of the bronze Buddha statues in several Buddhist temples in South Korea. According to the Buddhist scripture, when the udumbara, which blossoms every 3,000 years, appears, that will be when the legendary figure the Noble King of the Law Wheel, comes to the world to impart a higher teaching.
Many in the audience brought their children along. “It’s good education for the children,” commented Miss Lim, “I’m so worried that my sons don’t know anything about Chinese history and Chinese culture. As soon I saw the advertisement I bought tickets. My two boys love the Loyalty of Yue Fei,” smiled Miss Lim.
“The Loyalty of Yue Fei” told the story of a famous general in the Chinese Song Dynasty (960-1279) when China was invaded by the Jin from the north. The story depicts a man torn between serving his country and watching over his elderly mother.
Xuejun Wang, a lead dancer in the show with more than thirty years of professional experience, plays the character Yue Fei in the performance. Wang says that it is difficult to explain the inner meaning of the story, but he hopes the audience can understand what he tries to depict through the performance. “Every audience is different,” said Wang. “But you just have to hope that they walk away with a good feeling about what we are performing.”
The shows were so popular that before the show there were long lines with viewers eager to get into the Opera House to see the show. Even after the show, many people stayed to enjoy the lion dance and dragon dance in the Opera House lobby.
According to Zhong Lee, President of NTDTV, the purpose of the Spectacular show is to “facilitate a renaissance of traditional Chinese culture, its art forms, its folklore”, and “to reverse, in art, the tragic loss of traditional culture in China experienced over the past several decades of Communist rule.”
The Spectacular show will move to Los Angeles for two more shows on Jan. 9 & 10 before moving on to Canada and then back to the U.S. for performances in Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, and other major cities. Visit NTDTV’s website ticket.ntdtv.com for more details on the upcoming shows.
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. )