Talkin' Broadway: Chinese New Year Spectacular Returns to San Francisco
Chinese New Year Spectacular Returns to San Francisco
The truly stunning Chinese New Year Spectacular state of the art show recently returned to San Francisco to help celebrate the Year of the Ox. This time the exquisite production played at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco and the Flint Center in Cupertino.
Chinese New Year Spectacular has been called the "the largest Lunar New Year celebration" outside of China. The production features charismatic dancers, brilliant traditional costumes and mini-dance dramas about China's historical characters and events. This is a true look and demonstration of China's 5,000 years of history and civilization. The dances take the audience through different Chinese ethnic regions and historical periods. The choreography is very acrobatic while the 40-piece orchestra plays original scores of western and traditional Chinese music.
Chinese classical dancers under the sublime direction of Vina Lee use jumps, turns, tumbling and challenging acrobatic techniques. The group has both form and spirit, using the mind and the body, unifying internal and external.
This year's Chinese New Year Spectacular contained 21 gorgeous scenes introduced by a pair of attractive announcers who, between each act, gave some cultural and historical explanation, in English and Mandarin Chinese. The opening scene was fantastic, as the complete troupe with 25 drummers took to the stage in sumptuous costumes and interweaving choreography to celebrate 5,000 years of culture.
The production had many standout scenes. "Udumbara's Bloom," with lovely female dancers, somehow reminded me of a Busby Berkeley dance scene. There were mini-stories, such as "The Monkey King Triumphs," "Mulan Joins the Battle" and "The Miraculous Exhibit" that were reminiscent of Kirov and Bolshoi ballets. The lead dancers were superb in movements of the body and spirit. "The Poet's Vision," which celebrated China's most beloved poet Li Bai, known as "drunken poet," was a charming scene.
The Company made a political statement in one dramatic scene on behalf of the Falun Gong or Falun Dafa movement that has been banned by the Communist Chinese government. The scene called "Persecuted on a Sacred Path" was dramatically danced by both the male and female members of the cast. This stunning production also featured the excellent Chinese singers Jiansheng Yang, contralto; Guimin Guan, tenor; and Yuan Qu, tenor in lovely Chinese songs about the faith of the Falun Gong movement.
Projections by Peijong Hsieh and Ying Han were wonderfully three-dimensional. In the "Mulan" scene we saw Chinese castles and forts on fire that were very lifelike; in another scene Buddha-type gods came from the heavens on projections to become live actors/dancers on stage. The costumes were brilliantly colored and authentic dress to delight the eye. This production was truly spectacular in all senses of the word.
The Chinese New Year Spectacular played at the San Francisco Opera House and Flint Center. The show goes to Seattle on its next stop.