Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Buddhist Personality : Tai Lihua

Name : Tai Lihua
Nationality : China
Date Of Birth : 1976
Profession : Dancer

Tai Lihua is the lead dancer of the Thousand Hands Boddhisattva Dance which has awed audiences around the world.

She is deaf and mute. She was born as a normal child in Yichang in the province of Hubei in China. She began to lose her hearing when she was two after being overdosed with a drug to treat her high fever. Since then her world became silence. She could not hear the laughters of people around her and when her parents called her name.

At that time she didn't know that she was different from the other kids. When she was 5 she was enrolled in a kindergarten. One day the teacher had a game in her class . All the students were blindfolded and asked to guess some voices. When her turned came, she could not hear anything. She opened her blindfold and could only see the smiling faces of the other kids. That was the time she realised that she was different from the other children in her class. She was sad and cried.

In order for her to grow up like a normal child, she was enrolled in a local school for the deaf when she was 7. One day the teacher of the special school brought a drum to class and started to beat it. Tai Lihua was thrilled by the rhythmic vibration that passed over her body from under her feet. It was like a powerful current that hit her heart. She would lied on the wooden floor to feel the vibration with her whole body. It was the most beautiful sound in the world to her. To gain such feeling again, she would press her little face to a loudspeaker and imagine the dance on TV. It was her only language. From then on, she put all her energy into dancing and dancing has become an indispensible part of her life.

At that time she wished she could have a pair of dancing shoes. Her parents could not afford to buy her a pair as her mother had to quit her job to take care of her and the whole family of 4 was depending on the 50 yuan monthly salary her father earned. Her father lived frugally and finally managed to buy her a pair of white shoes. When she wore the shoes she was afraid to step on the floor, worrying it would dirty her shoes. At night she would brought her shoes to sleep with her and this moved her father to tears.

At the age of 15, Tai was selected for professional training. But such a beginner as she was, Tai's movements were so uncoordinated and even a little bit clumsy that the teachers were not positive about her future development. However, Tai Lihua never gave up. During Tai's first summer of dance training, her mother took notice of her daughter's habit of always wearing slacks, never skirts. While Tai napped one day, her mother rolled up a leg of her daughter's trousers. She was shocked to see the severity of the bruising and became distressed to the point of tears.

Her dancing improved tremendously and soon found her dreams. In 1993 at 17 she was accepted into the China Disabled Art Troupe. Her first overseas performance was in Malaysia. In Malaysia she caught the attention of a rich local boy who would wait for her until she completed her performance. However at that time her heart was closed to any relationship and politely rejected to boy. Like all girls she also wished to have someone special in her life but she thought that due to her disability, she would not have a normal relationship. This prompted her to concentrate her mind fully on dancing.

In 1994, she was admitted into the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts. She became a student in an ordinary college. Since she could not hear the teachers, she would sit in the front row with her eyes focussing on the teachers' lips and the writing on the blackboard. Due to her disability, she had to work harder than the others. After classes, she would borrowed notes from her friends and copied them. After 4 years in the college, she graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and was assigned to a school of the deaf as a teacher.

While with the China Disabled Arts Troupe, she learned the Peacock Dance. It was a very difficult dance to learn even for normal dancers. She realised she had to work harder than the others to learn this dance. Her hardworked paid off. Audiences were mesmerized by her performance. She said that her dance was made up of hard work and sweat but covered with "sunlight" and dreams.

In 2000, she performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 2001, she went to Malaysia again for another performance and it was a successful one. Over there the same boy whom she met 8 years ago went to meet her again. However at that time Tai Lihua already had a prince charming in her mind. The guy was still waiting for her but she declined him politely. Though disappointed, he wished her well. She married her prince charming, Li Chun when she was 26.

During one of her performances in Poland, after performing she went back stage to change her costumes for the next performance. The organiser came to meet her backstage and told her that the audience in the hall which included the President of Poland and his wife were still clapping and that they wanted to meet her. However she was unable to do so because she was in the midst of getting herself ready for the next performance. The host then announced to the audience informing them that the dancer was deaf and did not hear and know that they were still clapping even after she had gone backstage and apologised to them that she was unable to come on stage because she was preparing herself for the next performance. This moved many of the audience to tears.

Her major breakthrought came in 2005 when she performed the Thousand Hands Boddhisattva dance at the annual CCTV Gala Show. Her group performance that night was chosen as the best performance. Since then she has performed this dance around the world , each time receiving overwhelming response from the audiences. She is called as " Guan Yin Sister "

She is currently in the US. Three days ago ( June 6 ), she performed the " Thousand Hands Boddhisattva Dance " at the opening ceremony of the International VSA Festival in Washington ( VSA=Very Special Arts). Her troupe was given the honour to perform the "Grand Final" ( last performance of the night ). As a prelude to the performance, the host dedicated 45 minutes to introduce the troupe to the audience. Her performance that night received a standing ovation from the audience. Her US itinerary also includes visits to the United Nations in New York and Harvard University.

To date, Tai Lihua has performed across China and more than 60 countries around the world, each time drawing overwhelming response from the audience. According to her, her most memorable perforances were the ones at Carnegie Hall in New York and La Scala Opera House in Italy.

Despite her disability, Tai Lihua is a very optimistic person. She has no regrets in life. She once said that if she was a normal person, she would probably not showered with so much love and care from people around her. She is content with her life now.

The Thousand Hands Boddhisattva Dance