(Clearwisdom.net) People who have watched the Chinese Spectacular performed by Divine Performing Arts (DPA) must have been impressed with the "Chopstick Zest" piece. On the wide stretch of Mongolian pasture, a group of youthful herdsmen danced with bundles of chopsticks in their hands, dancing with quick rhythms, and their movements were vigorous and in perfect unison. They demonstrated an unstoppable force and spirit, inspiring the hearts of the audience.

This dance was choreographed and led by Chen Yongjia, winner of the First International Chinese Dance Competition. He is currently working as a choreographer and a lead dancer at DPA.

Chen Yongjia in the First International Chinese Classical Dance Competition (2007)

Chen Yongjia started learning dance when he was 11 years old, and later graduated at the top of his class from the Department of Dance, Beijing Central National University. He was twice the winner of the first prize in the youth category of the prestigious "Tao Li Bei" (Peach and Plum Cup) Competition in China. In 2004, he won first prize in the Formosa Championship in the "Dancing on Earth" creative dance competition, which was sponsored by the Taiwan Council for Cultural Planning and Development. In his nearly 30-year dancing career, Chen Yongjia has demonstrated multiple talents in the performing arts, teaching and choreography, and has become an all-round professional dancer.

In 2007, Chen Yongjia won first prize in the youth category at the First International Chinese Classical Dance Competition. Chen Yongjia talked about his experiences and feelings during a recent interview.

Chen Yongjia said that the First International Chinese Classical Dance Competition sponsored by NTDTV offered him an opportunity to once again reach the top of his performing arts career. The nine competitions currently sponsored by NTDTV provide a platform for artists to demonstrate their talents, and he hopes artists will actively participate in these competitions.

Winning First Prize in the Youth Category at the First International Chinese Classical Dance Competition

"I thought I had come to the end of my stage performance career after I won first price in a competition in Taiwan in 2004." Chen Yongjia said. "As a performer of Chinese classical dance, one does not always have much opportunity to perform on stage. So when friends told me about the dance competition sponsored by NTDTV, I registered for it. I was already 39 years old at the time, and I thought this competition would be my last effort."

In the final competition on July 8, 2007, at Skirball Center of New York University, Chen Yongjia, with his unique spirit and dancing skills required by Chinese classical dance, depicted the chivalrous character of an ancient swordsman. His meticulous dancing skills and the rich connotations embodied in the dance won him first prize in the youth category of the competition.

The judges commented that Chen Yongjia's performance was perfect. It was said that Chen Yongjia demonstrated the makings of Chinese traditional culture, including being implicative, prudent, soft externally while strong internally, allowing the audience to experience an artistic realm, with the heart and spirit combined into one.

The International Chinese Classical Dance Competition Brings About New Opportunities for the Performing Arts

In 2008, Divine Performing Arts Company toured 66 cities around the world and presented 215 shows for more than 600,000 audience members. It was an exceptionally grand achievement. Chen Yongjia was selected to join the global tour, and his superb performance won high praise from the audience.

As a dancer, winning first prize in the International Chinese Classical Dance Competition has given him an opportunity to come onto the international stage to demonstrate his superb dance skills and to promote Chinese traditional culture. Chen Yongjia said that the International Chinese Classical Dance Competition offered a renewed opportunity for his career in performing arts.

"The Divine Performing Arts promotes Chinese traditional culture to the international community through their performances around the world. They have helped people understand what true Chinese culture is, and the pure, compassionate and beautiful disposition of the Chinese traditional arts. This is truly significant. Last year, when I joined Divine Performing Arts, I came with an intention to promote Chinese culture. I had done this in the past, but in a very small way, and I did not have a complete plan. Now, there are many other artists in Divine Performing Arts who are working hard together."

A Different Experience with Divine Performing Arts

Chen Yongjia's wife Yang Siya is a dance teacher. She said, "Because of my profession, whenever I watch a performance, I am inclined to find faults with the dancers. But I had a totally different experience when watching Divine Performing Arts. I was deeply moved from the very beginning and I felt only that my heart and spirit were being purified."

Chen Yongjia said, "I had a different experience when performing with Divine Performing Arts. For example, in the dance 'Looking for the Way,' whenever I performed the act where I recognized a Taoist master as my own, I felt very touched in my heart. Also in the dance 'The Fruits of Goodness,' whenever I prostrated myself before the statue of the Buddha, I felt deeply moved in my heart."

Yang Siya said, "I feel that all the dancers in Divine Performing Arts are great. They have achieved what others cannot achieve. In fact it is a matter of belief. They dance with total commitment, full of spirit, and they pass to the audience a very important message." She also revealed that when doing the "Chopstick Zest" dance, Chen Yongjia always demonstrated bold and unrestrained heroic spirit and bearing, and would feel rather tired after each dance. "Yongjia's performances in Divine Performing Arts is different from before. He still takes his performance very seriously and is equally professional, but the degree of dedication is totally different," she said.

"Yongjia does not say anything himself, but he was giving his best throughout the tour to fulfil his mission." Yang Siya said, "He is someone who always goes forward. He has the courage and a sense of direction."

Shouldering the Mission to Restore Orthodox Traditions

What is this mission? As a choreographer in Divine Performing Arts, Chen Yongjia expressed that he has personally experienced the mission the company is undertaking to lead humanity's return to the orthodox traditions.

"It was only after I joined Divine Performing Arts that I experienced what orthodox traditions are. Every day we talk about how to standardize dance movements, but it is a rather difficult road to travel," Chen Yongjia said. "To return to orthodox traditions is not something one only pays a lip service to. One needs to truly return to the orthodox traditions in one's thoughts and understanding, and make efforts towards that direction. All art should help purify people's hearts and depict what is beautiful. In Chinese traditional culture, many things reflect the meaning of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance."

"For me, returning to orthodox traditions was a big challenge. First of all, I needed to let go of those modern dance movements and the way I used to choreograph dances. There are conflicts and struggles in my thoughts. Modern dance is purely a cluster of dance movements, without much artistic connotation. In modern dance, choreographers only need to focus on a particular fragment, an idea, or use difficult movements or add some contemporary forms. For example, in modern dance, there are a lot of rolling movements, which do not exist in Chinese classical dance. In Chinese classical dance, the connotation plays a more important role than movements." Chen Yongjia said, "In fact, dancers of the older generations always said that skills and techniques were to serve the artistic connotation. Everyone agrees with this, but nowadays many people have turned to glorify skills and techniques, and ignored the inner connotation and spiritual realm depicted through dance."

"Skills and techniques may have a dazzling effect, but the inner connotation of the art can move people's hearts even more. While high-level skills only show for a moment, and they are something external, a good dance production with inner connotation can move people deeply and leave a lingering enjoyable aftereffect."

Cultivating in Falun Gong and Experiencing a Change in Mental State

Chen Yongjia expressed that since joining Divine Performing Arts, he has experienced much change in his life and his mental state. "Since last year, I have thought more about spiritual development. Whenever there is a conflict between spiritual development and material needs, I'm able to quickly decide what I need most spiritually and follow my heart. I have peace of mind, because this is what I really want in my heart."

"I never truly thought about these things in the past. Now I spend more time thinking about what I want spiritually, and when I think of it I will follow my heart to do what I want to do."

Since he joined Divine Performing Arts, besides performing, he has also engaged in choreography and teaching. In his spare time, he also reads the book Zhuan Falun and practices Falun Gong exercises.

Chen Yongjia said, "After I started cultivation, I'm able to treat fame and gain lightly and I don't dwell on unpleasant things that happen to me as I used to. Instead, I view these things as good things that can help me improve my heart."

The Upcoming Nine Competitions Sponsored by NTDTV Provide a Big Stage for Artists

The nine competitions sponsored by NTDTV in 2008, including the Chinese Classical Dance Competition, Chinese Vocal Competition, Chinese Traditional Martial Arts Competition, Chinese Culinary Competition, and others will soon start. Chen Yongjia, who was able to break a new record in his dance career due to his participation in the First International Chinese Dance Competition, said, "Competitions provide an opportunity for people to learn and share their experience. The competitions sponsored by NTDTV are very fair, because competitors are all professionals and they can tell who has higher standards. Also, aspects such as how competitors perform on the day, and if they conform to the competitive regulations are also taken into consideration. These are normal concepts for competitions. But in many competitions these days, especially those in mainland China, there is much going on behind the scenes, and oftentimes they fail to select the best as winners."

Chen Yongjia said that the nine competitions provide a big stage for artists, a platform for them to demonstrate their talents and abilities. These competitions represent different areas of Chinese culture, and they enable more people around the world to learn about the different aspects of the Chinese culture and their directions. He believes that promoting Chinese culture is a common mission for Chinese artists.

As for the interference from the Chinese Communist regime in the past to disrupt such competitions, Chen Yongjia said that the Communist regime has always used the tactics of political suppression and threats. "Such threats are meaningless. Don't be afraid of it. It's more important for you to show your talent in your professional area on an international stage, so that you can gain more space to put it into full swing. I hope more Chinese artists are able to participate in these competitions," he said.

For more information on the nine competitions, please visit: http://competitions.ntdtv.com/home/index.html