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Monday, May 14, 2007

Spectacular show traces China's rich history

But references to Falun Gong anger Chinese authorities

What else is new? Non-communist Chinese seem to draw much attention from Beijing bosses no matter what they do. It's no wonder they're quitting the Party these days, leaving the tyrannical regime behind and reviving the true Chinese culture -- the way it was before the Cultural Revolution destroyed it -- a noble goal enjoyed by many on the grand stage of life. Look here for a related article.

DIVINE PERFORMING ARTS CHINESE SPECTACULAR

Where: Edmonton Jubilee Auditorium
When: May 16, Wednesday night at 7:30
Tickets: $35 to $150 through Ticketmaster, 451-8000

The Edmonton Journal by Elizabeth Withey; with files from the Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, May 12, 2007 -- Chi Yeh describes the Divine Performing Arts Chinese Spectacular as "a mini-tour inside China."

Yeh is one of the organizers for the travelling cultural performance that comes to the Jubilee on Wednesday.

"The show is dazzling," Yeh said Friday. "It's a rare opportunity."

The performance takes its audience on a journey through China's rich heritage. Heroes, emperors, philosophies and legends are woven together into a 21/2-hour program of live music, drama and dance.

It features elaborate costumes from ancient Chinese dynasties and traditional storytelling in Mandarin and English.

"The show will take you back through 5,000 years of Chinese history," Yeh said. "We expect people will understand more about the Chinese culture."

The Edmonton performance follows two shows in Calgary, marking the end of the Chinese Spectacular's 34-city world tour.

Yeh says the event will give Chinese Edmontonians a chance to reconnect with their traditional culture.

"Most people forget their origins, the true Chinese history," he said. "A lot of the traditional culture is lost."

The Chinese Spectacular has been at the centre of some controversy in recent months.

The show is hosted by New Tang Dynasty Television, a U.S.-based network sympathetic to the Falun Gong spiritual movement and Epoch Times, a newspaper that mixes news stories with passionate anti-Communist commentary.

In January, the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa denounced the show as propaganda because of its references to Falun Gong, including a simulated killing of a Falun Gong supporter by Chinese police. Some of those who attended the show said they felt the Falun Gong references were inappropriate in a show touted as purely cultural, but organizers said violence towards Falun Gong practitioners is well-documented and part of Chinese history.

Practitioners describe Falun Gong as a peaceable belief system that combines exercise and meditation. But the Chinese government see Falun Gong as a dangerous cult and made it illegal in 1999.

Though Yeh and some of the volunteers for the Edmonton show are Falun Gong practitioners, Yeh said "it's not a Falun Gong show.

"It tries to portray, through the form of entertainment, goodness, virtues, truth, compassion," he said. "It's for everyone, all walks of life and ethnicities."

ewithey@thejournal.canwest.com

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