By Jason Loftus, Epoch Times Toronto Staff, Jan 19, 2008-
TORONTO— Vanessa Harwood is among Canada’s most honoured dancers. After attending the Toronto premier of Divine Performing Arts’ Chinese New Year Spectacular at the Sony Centre she’ll be telling others about the beauty of the show.
Harwood was a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, once home of National Ballet of Canada, is her home, says Harwood. She danced there with the National Ballet in the 1960’s and 1970’s and her photo still hangs on the wall in the theatre.
(photo: Honoured Canadian ballet dancer Vanessa Harwood/ by the Epochtimes)
In 1984, Harwood was honoured for her accomplishments with the country’s top civilian honour, the Order of Canada.
She attended the show Friday with her husband, Hugh Scully, is a surgeon, professor, and former president of the Ontario Medical Association.
“There’s this sort of calmness that goes through it. . . this ethereal feeling,” said Harwood, describing the show. “Everything is sort of on one level. It has passion, but yet it’s calm. And it’s beautiful.”
“It’s not just pretty pretty. It’s serious pretty – there’s a lot of depth to it, and a lot of meaning. They take it very seriously. And it’s beautiful to see it.”
The Divine Performing Arts dance company has made it a mission to revive classical Chinese dance, a form of traditional culture that has been suppressed almost to the point of extinction in China by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Harwood spoke about how the Khmer Rouge communist dictatorship that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 and killed a quarter of the population tried to destroy Cambodian dance but was unsuccessful.
“The Cambodian dance, they tried to kill it completely; one person survived and brought it back. Dance expresses your culture, so it will never go. It’s so important for dance as a culture to continue someone’s culture.”
“It’s like the lotus flower,” said Harwood, comparing the ability of dance to rise from adversity to that of the flower which rises from the mud to grow into something beautiful.
“If you can preserve it, it’s fantastic.”
“And there’s one other thing about dance – it has no language barrier. You can understand it no matter what your language is.”
With her past experience as a dancer Harwood said she was able to see the amount of rehearsal that went into the show. She could tell the backgrounds of many of the dancers. Besides the obvious training in classical Chinese dance Harwood identified that particular dancers were clearly trained in ballet, some in other dances.
“They’re so elegant and beautifully rehearsed. And it’s very nice to see the Chinese culture mixed with the classical dance.”
Her favourite performance depicted traditional Mongolian dancing. “There’s something mysterious about it,” she said.
Harwood is a member of the World Dance Alliance, which describes itself as the primary voice for dance and dancers throughout the world. The organization encourages the exchange of ideas and the awareness of dance in all its many forms. She said she plans to recommend the show to others in the organization.
“I’m going to have to tell them – they’ll have to see it when it comes to their town.”
“This is beautiful, it’s professional and very well done.”
The Toronto debut of the Chinese Spectacular performed before a packed Sony Centre, one of city’s top cultural venues and the largest soft-seat theatre in Canada. The audience appeared engrossed in the show, with frequent raptures of applause. An ovation sustained throughout the curtain call, with many rising to show their appreciation. Friday’s performance was the first of five shows in Toronto and one of twenty shows in Canada.
After Toronto, the Spectacular will continue on its global tour, which includes an 11-day run at the legendary Radio City Music Hall in New York. The show returns to Canada for shows in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary in the spring. By the end of its tour, the show will have played to a total live audience of 650,000 in over 60 cities and 14 countries.
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 www.bestchineseshows.com.
– Original report from the Epochtimes