May 28

A Renaissance of Chinese Culture

Over the past four years, under the auspices of New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV), a group of artists and scholars have breathed new life into Chinese culture. Together they have produced a world class annual cultural show that is bringing about a renaissance of ancient Chinese culture and traditons. Their annual global Chinese New Year Spectacular is touring the world’s top theaters around the globe. In just a few short years the production has grown from seven performances in five cities in 2004, to 76 performances in 30 cities in 2007. Audiences have swelled, in turn, with last year’s shows landing on Billboard Magazine’s number seven slot for most successful productions. But the real story lies not in the figures, however striking they may be, but in the meaning of it all. Behind the numbers is a tale of tragedy, perseverance, hope, and renewal.

After the takeover in China by the communists in 1949, traditional Chinese culture and spiritual traditions were destroyed and outlawed. Almost all the temples and many invaluable art treasures were smashed and burned. They, the communists, then went ahead to change history books and brainwashing generations of Chinese with party culture, class struggle and Marxist ideology.

Many of the show’s artists and creators have firsthand experience of the oppression of traditional culture and human rights. One of them is artistic director Rutang Chen who went through the pain and humiliation of the Cultural Revolution. He and his wife were separated and sent to the countryside to be “reformed” through hard labor—all for the crime of being artists who played the cello and flute. Years later, when they were allowed to play their instruments again in China’s leading Central Symphony Orchestra, all classical and traditional music had to be scrapped in favor of patriotic songs. Many orchestras were disbanded altogether.

With NTDTV’s shows, gone are the red flags of Chinese communism. Gone are the pirouetting People’s Liberation Army soldiers. Gone are all those lyrics crafted to stir patriotism. In their absence is a cultural space that has been missing for years.

Instead, NTDTV’s Spectacular serves up China’s best traditional arts in all their glory, vigor, and spiritual robustness. Many traditional Chinese instruments are used, and costumes are faithfully recreated from old manuscripts, paintings and pottery. Everything, including the magnificent backdrops, evoke the grandeur of China’s great dynasties and legends of remote history.

You can see it in each carefully placed step of the Lotus Arts Troupe dancers. You can hear it in the deep, heartfelt playing of the Erhu, an ancient Chinese two-stringed violin. And you can feel it in each act—that intangible ingredient that makes the difference between ordinary and magical.

This is Chinese culture brought to life by people who live it. But it’s also culture meant to inspire, ennoble, and nurture its audience. Unlike shows produced in China, where under communist rule today much of the arts is like a plastic veneer, playing to the fancy of the passing tourist, the NTDTV show runs deep—true to the profound, 5,000 year-old culture of China.

Between January and March the 2007 NTDTV Chinese New Year Spectacular tours Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and major cities in Canada, Europe and Asia.

John Augustyn

Related posts:

  1. A Glorious Feast of Traditional Chinese Dance
  2. Is there wok for a Chinese art teacher in the US?
  3. gift for my Chinese friend in China?
  4. Knowing the Rich Japanese Culture
  5. The Erhu – China’s Haunting Two String Fiddle Comes to Broadway



  1. Anonymous says:

    Is Western culture and history superior to Chinese culture and history?
    let’s see the GREEKS and all they have achieved and learned…the ROMANS….

    Then…The Italian Renaissance….Age of Enlightenment….Industrial Revolution……

    Copernicus, Galileo, Da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Einstein…..
    Well can you guys give me more details, evidence or historical facts that show the Chinese is on par, or greater (if possible) than west?

  2. Jason Sdf says:

    No culture is better then a different culture. Same with history. But what your talking about is historic advancements.

    But anyway here are some some historic advancements made in Asia: paper, mirror, gunpowder, compass, the current numbering system we use today (How each symbol represents a whole number between 0-9), ice cream…. the list goes one.
    References :

  3. Juana says:

    No culture is better than any other culture. We are the human race.
    Maybe you should study Chinese culture a bit more since you don’t know much about it.
    The Chinese have invented a lot: the bullet train, their cellphones work underground (ours don’t), gunpowder and many more inventions. In American schools, they don’t cover this part of culture and history. I know you’re probably not going to like this answer because you’re probably looking for someone to approve of your opinion. I’m sorry but I do not think any culture is superior to another.

    Every culture is different and unique.
    References :

  4. James says:

    Blaise Pascal stole the triangle showing combinations of things from the Chinese, and renamed it ‘pascal’s triangle’ . Just sayin’
    References :

  5. Nathan says:

    No, neither is better, just different.

    You have to remember that Chinese culture has it’s roots at least 5000 years ago, Many European Cultures have their roots at least 4000 years ago, The British at least 1500 years ago if you don’t count the Roman occupation and the celtic tribes, The Middle east has evidence of culture dating back at least 7000 years. America is a young whipper snapper in the greater scheme of things.Before the greeks reached their prime and the Romans had only just begun to expan, the Chinese were building the Great Wall and the Egyptians had already built the great pyramids.

    While the west has made the biggest progress in the last 500-1000 years, The Chinese had made the most before that. War drives progress and the west, I should say Europe, has endured many many centuries of being in a near constant state of war, China hasn’t.

    Things invented by the Chinese,

    The Compass, Steel, Gunpowder, The mirror, Big infrastructure (Dujiangyen) that puts the Roman aqueducts to shame, Martial Arts, Modern Maths, Bureaucracy, The Civil Service, Tea, Medicine, An understanding of the Human body, the list goes on.
    References :

  6. Secret squirrel says:

    The Chinese may have invented, by accident, a few things that where when modified and improved to become the useful objects they become today, but heck today they simply just copy Western goods.
    References :

  7. welcometochina says:

    In the history of Human being, western culture produced many modern and advanced theory and technology, but eastern culture did a great contribution to the civilization of Human beings. Every culture has it’s own features and special reasons. So don’t try to set the differences of western culture and eastern culture. That’s because the differences, we have a colourful world and an interesting life. If we are all the same, won’t it be very bored?
    References :