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Monday, May 14, 2007

Dazzling culture more than 'kung fu'

This show is like a little piece of heaven. It's on at the Jub in Calgary tonight and tomorow night (14&15) at 8 pm. Don't miss it! Look here for details. Go here for more media coverage.

Calgary Sun -UPDATED: 2007-05-11 01:48:48 MST: What's on your wish list?

When Cecilia Xiong was growing up in Wuhan, China, all she wanted to do was dance.

Though her father enrolled her in dance classes from the time she was four, he refused to send her to one of the state-run schools .

"My father wanted me to study languages. He wanted me to be able to travel, work and even live outside of China," says Xiong, 28.

Though she speaks fluent English and Dutch, Xiong has discovered that her first passion, dance, is the true universal language.

"You don't need to speak the language of a certain nation to be able to appreciate its culture. The traditional music and dance of China speaks to people everywhere."

Xiong is one of 100 musicians, dancers, singers and technicians who are touring with Divine Performing Arts Chinese Spectacular which plays at the Jubilee Auditorium for two performances only on Monday and Tuesday.

Xiong became part of this touring show that originates in New York shortly after she arrived in Toronto almost five years ago.

"When I was living and studying in Europe I couldn't find an outlet for my dance training, but as soon as I arrived in Toronto I learned about this international show that tours every December through May.

Xiong promptly auditioned and was accepted as a member of the company and now lives part of the year in Toronto and part in New York.

"We will be ending this current tour in Calgary and Edmonton and then we head back to New York to begin creating next year's show.

"Because we are saying goodbye to this show in Alberta it will be all the more special for us and therefore for the audience."

Xiong says each performance is magical.

"The show is not just about the spectacular costumes and backdrops, music and movement but about the spirit of ancient China.

"Through the dances we attempt to give our audience a glimpse of some of the finest traditions of a 5,000-year-old culture. Once the performers get on stage, it becomes a learning experience for us as well, because we are exploring the spirit of our Chinese heritage.

She says one of the missions of the performance is "to let people see how much China has influenced the world.

"We didn't just give the world kung fu."

Xiong doubts the creators of the Divine Performing Arts Chinese Spectacular will ever run out of source material.

"There are 50 nations in China. We couldn't possibly pay tribute to all of them in one show.

"We also take our audiences on a brief tour of some of the Chinese dynasties which produced their own costumes and customs as well," she says. "The show is like a brief but very colourful and highly moving historical parade."

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