An international Chinese theatre troupe is headed to the area to help bridge the cultural gap between our nations.

Shen Yun Performing Arts will be bringing their celebration of China’s traditional arts featuring world-class performers, dramatic costumes, interactive backdrops, powerful drum rhythms and a full orchestra to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex on August 21 and 22.

The show is meant to highlight a lost heritage in a production inspired by the legends and values of centuries of Chinese culture before communist rule.

“We know that this is the best representation of Chinese culture and traditional dance,” said Xiaoxu Lin, a New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) executive.

In 2007, NTDTV partnered with Shen Yun to help promote the cultural show. “We want to revive the traditional culture because so much was lost in the Chinese Cultural Revolution,” Mr. Lin said. “We try to present what Chinese people would have looked like in the past and what their teaching was before the Maoist movement. That’s why we can get such a tremendous feat in growth [with the show]. Many people want to see genuine China and its growth in culture. This show will highlight that life.”

The show gives an overview of the thousands of years of Chinese history through interpretative dance and music.

The program at the BJCC is part of a three-troupe unit that has been crisscrossing the globe since 2007. Each of the troupes features 50 dancers and a full orchestra. The other two troupes are touring Europe and Asia, respectively.

Ever since the 2006 Broadway première, the show has gained critical acclaim and each calendar the performances are pushed to show even more of the cultural significance of China and its history.

“It is a really beautiful show,” Lin said. “Beyond entertainment we’re trying to pass a good message. It’s really meant to break the barrier between cultures that share so much now in the [modern] world. Hopefully, people can see common values from different cultures and they can understand [China’s culture] better.”

Lin said that the show is meant to highlight the persecution and perseverance of the traditional Chinese culture and how it has remained a key part of the country’s fabric despite the government’s political views. “It’s beautiful and full of positive energy,” Lin noted.

He said of the Chinese government’s policies towards traditional arts “We feel that regardless of their position that this is part of the important history that we’re showing that background.”

The show took two to three years to organize before it headed on worldwide tours. Many of the performers are from China and now living outside the county in the United States and the Asia-Pacific area.

Some of the younger dancers grew up as second-generation Chinese. They train from a young age and some start to learn dance around the time they enter kindergarten.

New Tang Dynasty Television, who helps promote the show, hosts annual, international Chinese dance competitions and most of the dancers are selected through them.

“In the past, a fusion of music and style and orchestrations weren’t able to put [all of those elements] together and tell China’s legend and story,” Lin said.

Throughout the two-and-a-half hour, fast transitions between different periods of China’s multi-century story will be incorporated with masters of ceremony narrating the changes.

Lin said that the approach is “kind of self explanatory. The MCs give brief introductions to each performance. I think in our tour worldwide that audiences understand real well what we are showing.”

Lin said that bringing the show to the Birmingham area hit home with him, as he is a graduate of UAB. “We’ve had a close relationship with their performing arts center. I feel it’s the best thing we could do for the people in Birmingham and surrounding metropolitan area. It’s a beautiful show with massive talent involved from the music to costumes. There is 3D animation on backdrops in parts of the show. That’s a unique feature to combine it with the dancing.”

He continued, “The classical Chinese dance is pretty unique to feature in a show of this magnitude. This is a different system from ballet. Many dancers who come to see it can learn a lot about classical Chinese dance.”

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