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Sword of Truth, Dragon of Evil at Chinese New Year Show
Coming soon to major cities around the world is NTDTV's 2006 Gala, providing a more refined and authentic experience of traditional Chinese culture than is generally available in Mainland China and abroad. The show sold out at Madison Square Garden's Theater in 2005 and some say it has quietly become the destination event to ring in the Lunar New Year.
Every year NTDTV's Gala shows, through dance and performance, elements of ancient Chinese mythology and tradition as a way to herald one of the most ancient of all celebrations.
For the second year in a row, renowned Chinese choreographer Yung Yung Tsuai will direct a piece. She has taught at the Martha Graham and Pear Land dance schools and opened her own award-winning dance company which has toured nationally for the past decade.
This year, Yung Yung will present the stunning "Nine Swords," a performance that combines traditional Chinese martial arts and modern dance. Essentially, the dance is a battle between good and evil, with careful attention paid to Chinese folklore and metaphysical beliefs. The dance never ceases to dazzle the eyes or arrest our attention.
Set against a detailed backdrop, the dancers' movements are lively, agile and elegant, in the style of Tai Chi sword dancing, complete with sweeping, blocking and swiping. Attention is paid to both motion and stillness.
Kevin Chan, a kung fu instructor for 13 years, said that in ancient China swordplay was related to Chinese dance. "When you see a kung fu performance, you often cannot tell if the performers are dancing or fighting. Chinese martial arts emphasize the beauty and spiritual aspects of the human form," he said.
Since ancient times, the Chinese have explained the balance of the world in terms of the opposing principles of Yin and Yang. They believe that the interplay of these two fundamental forces is the creative force behind all things in life. In a classic depiction of righteousness pitted against evil, the nine swordsmen in the dance represent the forces of good. Evil is cast in the form of a red, snakelike dragon. The swordsmen also represent the "Nine Creditors of Heaven and Earth," a motif from a Chinese legend. When the dragon first appears in the dance, it causes deep anxiety in the dancers, echoing the traditional Chinese belief that when there is an imbalance of Yin in the world it will manifest a state of confusion and unease.
Yung Yung said that she chose Tai Chi wooden swords because they signify righteousness vanquishing evil. "Wood is organic and rooted in the earth. Wooden swords also symbolize truth," she said. "Tai Chi swords are unlike other martial arts swords—they are for cutting through to the truth."
Yung Yung says that nine is a celestial number in ancient China. Buddhist tradition holds that nine embodies supreme spiritual power. "In the Christian tradition, three is also a holy number, being the number of the trinity," says Yung Yung. "Three times three makes nine, an especially auspicious number related to the heavens." In Chinese mythology, dragons can be either good or bad. Some evil dragons cause floods or demand sacrifices. However, others may be God's mythical animals or even divine themselves.
In this dance the dragon is definitely a bad one. Eli, the artist who created the dragon, says that he designed the dragon to look like a snake. "We want him to look like a snake with a flexible neck so that he can move freely and flexibly. Unlike Chinese tradition that recognizes the dragon as one of the four sacred creatures, we want [this one] to be evil and scary," says Eli. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to http://gala.ntdtv.com or call Ticketmaster: 212 307-7171.
Crouching Dragons and Lions no longer Crouching or Hidden
One of the most spectacular sights during the Chinese New Year Festival is the dragon and lion dance. The dragon dance was originally performed to please the dragon, who is the deity of water, and to ask for rain during drought years. Gradually it became a popular performance during the New Year festival. The dragon dance is now often accompanied by the lion dance. The lion dance requires more Kung Fu skills to perform than the dragon dance. The lion dance is performed by two people and the movements require a great deal of strength, balance and co-ordination. During Chinese New Year, you can often see these dances on Mott Street. A good performance is believed to bring luck and good fortune to the stores.
Tip: to experience a truly spectacular lion and dragon performance and more, you can participate in the largest Chinese New Year celebration and the "talk of Chinatown"- NTDTV's Chinese New Year Global Gala at Radio City Music Hall (ticket hotline: 1-888-260-6221, 1-888-260-6223 or visit www.gala.ntdtv.com)
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