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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Spectacular Aids 'Important Cultural Development,': Matas

In contrast, communism is 'antithetical to culture'

By Cindy Chan
Jan 15, 2008

Prominent human rights lawyer David Matas (The Epoch Times)
Prominent human rights lawyer David Matas (The Epoch Times)

After seeing the Divine Performing Arts Chinese New Year Spectacular in Ottawa this year, human rights lawyer David Matas had high praise for the show's professionalism as well as its important contribution to cultural development.

"It's a very high-quality show, the costumes were wonderful, the music was terrific, the choreography was imaginative and very pretty to look at. It was a very professional show," said Matas.

Matas noted "the lessons of faith" portrayed in the Spectacular and "the continuity between the show and ancient Chinese cultural traditions.

It is "a continuation of Chinese culture as a living entity rather than just a museum artefact," he said. Ethnic Chinese will benefit from the show because it helps them connect with their identity, while non-ethnic Chinese will benefit from the presentation of cultural diversity and the richness of the Chinese civilization.

Matas commended Divine Performing Arts, the company that presents the Spectacular , "for their commitment to continue, preserve, and develop [Chinese] culture."

"It isn't just the preservation," he said, because the show contains elements "that would normally help cultural development and don't just replicate the past, but bring the past up to the present."

Matas pointed to the combination of modern instruments and ancient Chinese instruments as an example. "That in itself is an important cultural development—important for the Chinese culture, important for global culture."

"Culture that is meaningful is going to be insurrectionary, not in a violent sense, but rejecting established cultural norms. Otherwise you just get a regurgitation of the old stuff."

Keeping Chinese Culture Alive Despite Obstacles

The Divine Performing Arts promotes the Spectacular as a show that revives the authentic traditional culture of China, with its emphasis on moral values and spiritual quest, without any elements of communist party culture.

"That comes across pretty clear," said Matas, adding that communism is a "controlled system" that thwarts culture.

Communism is "antithetical to culture and spirituality," he remarked. "The way it relates to Chinese culture is simply by trying to destroy, obliterate, and suppress it, so any continuity of Chinese culture like what we see through the show is something that has no connection to communism whatsoever."

Each year the Chinese embassies and consulates contact government officials and attempt to discourage attendance at the shows and/or prevent them from taking place. Matas called these attempts "a form of cultural destruction of one of the richest cultural heritages in human history and human civilization."

He further explained that culture cannot come from a government or political system; it must come from the people. By its very nature, culture is a grassroots phenomenon, he said, whereas a communist society is a "controlled system," and "any controlled system thwarts culture.

"The whole notion of central control, which is essential to the notion of communism, is antithetical to cultural development from the people."

It follows that "you can't have a meaningful Chinese culture while the CCP remains in power in China," said Matas.

"The community putting on this show is not just providing a lot of entertainment but adding to contemporary cultural diversity and keeping alive this rich and diverse Chinese culture in the face of huge obstacles."

The Epoch Times is a proud sponsor of the Divine Performing Arts shows that will perform in over 60 cities worldwide in 2008. To find a show near you, please visit

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