NTD Dance Competition: Winners Describe Joys, Virtues of Classical Chinese Dance

A total of 12 gold awards showcasing spectacular performances of classical Chinese dance: NTD’s 10th International Classical Chinese Dance Competition came to a close on Sept. 10 at the Performing Arts Center of Purchase College in New York.

This year’s competition produced a total of 12 gold awards, and also showcased spectacular performances by gold award winners from previous years.

On Sunday afternoon, 51 contenders from the junior and adult divisions advanced to Sunday’s finals after intense preliminary and semi-final rounds.

Several contestants portrayed historical characters with remarkable precision, combining graceful movements and breathtaking technical skills—highlighting the beauty of classical Chinese dance and leaving the audience deeply impressed.

Bernardo Scheimberg, a 91-year-old retired doctor, was in the audience, and he expressed his admiration for the artists’ abilities. “I loved not only the dance itself, but the meaning that the dance represents. Really, because it made me feel that I was seeing something that I never saw in my life, and that I was loving,” he said.

“The form and the movements make women look more graceful, and men more masculine,” said audience member Shu Zhang.

“I’m only half Chinese—I grow up in America,” said holistic health and fitness coach, Tysan Lerner. “So, for me, having something like this where I get to see real, traditional Chinese culture is very meaningful to my heart.”

This year’s competition is the largest it has ever been, featuring 140 contestants competing over four days of competition. In the end, a total of 51 contestants received awards, including 12 gold, 10 silver, 13 bronze, and 16 honorable mentions.

“More and more young people are learning classical Chinese dance, and what these contestants reflect are the true values of pure goodness and pure beauty, which our competition advocates,” said Lucy Zhou, the director of the NTD International Traditional Chinese Dance Competition.

The award-winning contestants shared their thoughts and thanked the competition and its organizers for providing an international platform for like-minded dancers to carry forward the profound traditional culture of China.

“I still have so much to learn!” said Grace Rubacek, gold award winner in the Junior Female division. “I feel like you can never … I’ll never be able to grasp the full meaning and essence of Chinese culture, because the history is too long.”

“Participating in this competition is a significant breakthrough for me,” said Bella Fan, gold award winner in the Adult Female division. “This year, I feel the biggest change is in my mindset. In the past, I may have been more impatient, but now, with stage experience, I know how to overcome challenges as soon as I step on stage.”

The purpose of the competition is to enhance cultural exchange and promote the pure, good, and beautiful traditional art of dance. The contestants share this passion, and support each other’s growth.

“Participating in this competition is to promote the beauty of Chinese traditional culture and Chinese classical dance, as well as the values of purity, goodness, and beauty,” said Sophie Shao, gold award winner in the Junior Female division. “I also hope to enhance my understanding of dance and improve myself.”

Jesse Browde was the gold award winner in the Adult Male division. “And especially on this path of dancing—whenever you throw things in, like a dance test, or a rehearsal, or a dance contest—all these things help you, push you up more and more, and [help you to] improve,” he said.

Sunday also highlighted a spectacular performance by 15 gold award winners from previous years. They demonstrated the long-lost dance technique known as “The body leads the hands, and the hips lead the legs.” It was taught by Mr. D.F., the Artistic Director of Shen Yun Performing Arts.

The audience erupted in applause and cheers, in appreciation of what was a fitting climax for the event.

With the end of this year’s competition, the contestants will continue to hone their skills and artistry in classical Chinese dance.

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