9/22/2008


USA Tour Direct From China - 2,500 Years of Tradition Rolled Into 90 Minutes of Entertainment with China's Finest Acrobats & Martial Arts Masters

View 2 minute Jungua video (2MB wmv)

A high impact entertainment experience for all ages, "JUNGUA - Descendents of the Dragon" celebrates the Chinese culture in an explosion of kungfu, acrobatics, music and dance. The amazing skills of China's finest acrobats and martial arts masters appear as part of a national tour on November 8 at 7:30 pm at the Mattie Kelly Fine & Performing Arts Center on the Niceville campus of Northwest Florida State College. Tickets for JUNGUA are now available for $25 each from the box office at (850) 729-6000 or by web at www.mattiekellyartscenter.org . A group discount of $5 off per ticket (tickets $20 each) is available for groups of 10 or more tickets purchased at the same time.

Featuring the Shaolin Disciples and the Imperial Acrobats of China, JUNGUA combines the best talents and revered cultural traditions of the far-east with an evocative musical score, dramatic scenery and lavish costumes to create a feast for the eyes as audiences experience the wonders of China like never seen before. The first highly acclaimed 2007 tour of JUNGUA included engagements in Las Vegas, San Diego, Houston, Montreal, Paris, Brussels, Geneva and more. The 2008 tour continues with performances coast to coast throughout North America.

JUNGUA has been an unqualified hit with audiences and critics alike, inspiring boisterous standing ovations from capacity crowds. In the Montreal Gazette, reviewer Kathryn Greenway called JUNGUA "Equal parts delicate and deadly...astonishing...graceful -- most definitely a family show". She summed up the experience this way: "Laughing, gasping and clapping: That's what it's all about."

The Shaolin Disciples hail from Dengfeng, China - home of the world famous Shaolin Temple. The martial arts system known as "Kungfu" was developed at the temple more than 1,500 years ago and quickly spread to other Buddhist monasteries in China. These martial arts masters began training at an early age at the nearby Shaolin Qipanshan Kungfu Institute. Established by long time Shaolin Temple instructor Wang Haiying, the institute and its members hold numerous gold medals in international martial arts competitions.

In addition to lightening fast fight sequences and traditional weapons demonstrations, the Shaolin Disciples will perform super-human feats of "Qigong" in which their bodies become impervious to spears, beds of nails, and various rocks, bricks, sticks, and steel bars broken over their heads and other parts of their bodies. Years of training and meditative techniques allow the Disciples to channel their "Qi" (which may be loosely translated to "energy") to a particular part of the body through extreme concentration.

The Imperial Acrobats of China hail from the Beijing (Peking) Acrobatic Troupe, near the ancient Imperial palace known as the Forbidden City, and feature some of the finest female acrobats in all of China. Historical records can trace the origins of Chinese acrobatics back thousands of years. Drawing on centuries of tradition, the Imperial Acrobats have perfected the skills handed down from generation to generation and gone on to create innovative new movements. Their unsurpassed abilities as contortionists, hand balancers, foot jugglers, and aerialists are legendary. These graceful, lovely ladies from Beijing are also raising the bar for artistic presentation, with contemporary versions of traditional dances such as "Red Streamers" and "Flowing Sleeves" which will be part of the November 8 performance at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center.

Entirely set to evocative music with no narrative, some scenes in JUNGUA are short vignettes, while some are more poetic and still others are like living paintings. Inspiration for the show's themes come from Chinese history, art, myths, religions, and philosophies. From a creative perspective, the underlying inspiration is the Asian concept of "Yin and Yang" - the opposing forces which create balance in the universe. The show creators note they want to take the audience "into a world where beauty and danger live side by side, and you're never sure which one you will get."

The idea to present Chinese culture from a Western perspective began with producer Yan Yan Zhao's original idea to do a Shaolin kungfu show. The inspiration was to combine the masculinity of kungfu with the feminine grace and beauty of China's famed female contortionists and acrobats.

"The concept behind the show is to present a microcosm of traditional Chinese culture in a way that is exciting and accessible to western audiences. We wanted to create a great evening of entertainment based on authentic Chinese culture, but without cultural barriers," said director Eddy McGuire, McGuire noted that western audiences have no frame of reference for 'Chinese style' acting, storytelling, music and dance, a unique style that has been ingrained in Chinese audiences from birth. To get around the producers note that the show "translates" the wonders of China for Western audiences. "It is kind of like the artists are 'speaking' their native Chinese, but it is being translated for the audience," he said.

"I see myself as the translator. I want the audience to feel disoriented at first, as if they are in a strange land. Then, as the evening progresses, my job is to help them to gain more and more understanding about that place and its inhabitants. So the cultural aspect is paramount, but at the same time the show is dynamic, interesting, and highly entertaining."

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is located at 100 College Boulevard on the Niceville, Florida campus of Northwest Florida State College (formerly Okaloosa-Walton College) and is easily accessible via Interstate 10, U.S. Highway 285, U. S. Highway 85 and the Mid--Bay Bridge.

The center's 2008-09 season includes nine national touring Broadway, Artist and Family series shows including "Nunsense" starring Sally Struthers on December 4, the family musical "Oliver!" on December 16 and 17, the Tony-Award winning "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" on January 12, 2009 and other top-notch national shows. For a complete schedule, to be sent a season brochure or to purchase tickets, visit the center's website or contact the box office at (850) 729-6000 or toll-free 1-888-838-ARTS (2787).

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