In Xi’an, a city of six million people in central China, the legacy of ancient emperors is still alive today. For many years, Xi’an was the imperial capital of China (the current capital is Beijing).
After flying to the city this morning, we spend our evening attending the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show. The Tang emperors ruled China from 618-907, during a time that has become known as the golden age of Chinese culture and civilization. The show presents many of the traditions of the period — including music, costume and dance — in vivid color.
If you’re a frequent group traveler, you’ve likely lost count of all the different dinner shows you’ve attended; this one though, was unforgettable. More than 100 dancers and musicians are involved in the production, playing Chinese instruments and music that date back more than 1,000 years. Though the sights and sounds were completely foreign to us Westerners, they were also beautiful and captivating.
This show is a first-rate production as well, with intricate staging and lighting. At one point, it actually rains on the stage; in the ending finale, actors representing the Tang emperor and his entourage parade majestically through the audience.
The more I travel in this country, the more I realize how much of its national identity comes from the imperial attitudes and dynasties of old. Perhaps understanding more of China’s past will inform the way we interact with them today.