Diversity and Inclusion

Upper School Attends "Chinese New Year Spectacular" with David Ma

On January 23, 2007, the Tower Hill Upper School community had the opportunity to attend a rare cultural event: the New Tang Dynasty Television Chinese New Year Spectacular.
This performance was all the more special to Tower Hill because it included the artistic talents of Tower Hill student David Ma.  David, formerly of the Class of '08, has taken a one year sabbatical from his studies at Tower Hill in order to dance in the show, and will resume his academic career at THS with the Class of '09 next September. In the meantime, David will tour with the NTDTV dance troupe as they travel to international destinations to exhibit their talents. When the school found out that David Ma would be coming to perform in Philadelphia for two nights this January, the administration with help from David’s parents and other resources purchased tickets for the entire Upper School student body and the faculty so that the entire community could appreciate David's special abilities.

The NTDTV Chinese New Year Spectacular was a showcase of China's rich culture and strong tradition in the performing arts, featuring orchestral music, instrumental soloists, singing, and, of course, the dance. The show had a broad repertoire, which reflected the long and complex history of the Chinese nation. The topics of the performances ranged from ancient Chinese folk-myths that celebrated Buddhist cave art and the legend of Mulan to contemporary issues facing China today, such as songs denouncing the brutal repression of the 1989 Tianamen Square student protests, and the ongoing opression of practioners of the Falun Gong religious order. Traditional Chinese beliefs in the importance of duty to one's family and service to the nation mixed with modern desires for religious liberty and renewed commitments to the virtues of faith, hope, and truth, even in the face of great adversity. The performance also included works celebrating the contributions of non-Chinese ethnicities to the multitudinous culture of China itself, such as the Manchus, the Tibetans, and the Mongols.There was no shortage of fascinating displays of talent in the course of the show. Beautifully coordinated dance routines by large numbers of performers, several solo performances by skilled vocal artists and musicians on traditional Chinese instruments, and lively orchestral accompaniment made for a entertaining experience.

The finale of the evening's program consisted of an extraordinary spectacle of musicianship in which a formation of dances simultaneous played drums slung across their front and back in a complicated rhythm.The show was an illuminating experience for the students and the faculty alike. We gained new insight into the culture of China thanks to the talents of our fellow Tower Hiller, David Ma. We all look forward to his return to Tower Hill next fall, when he can share with us his reflections on his unique experience.       

By Matt Sanyour -- Class of 2007