Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai (from row, third from left), US Senator Steve Daines (second from left) and US Congressman Greg Gianforte (third from right) of Montana applaud while watching a show by the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre at the Chinese embassy in Washington on Monday afternoon. Chen Weihua / China Daily

Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai (from row, third from left), US Senator Steve Daines (second from left) and US Congressman Greg Gianforte (third from right) of Montana applaud while watching a show by the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre at the Chinese embassy in Washington on Monday afternoon. Chen Weihua / China Daily

 

Montana has its day at Chinese embassy

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-12-05 11:31

The Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre (RMBT) from Montana has a deep China connection, having made three trips there. That is the reason why, just hours after landing in Washington, they went to the Chinese embassy and put on a show Monday afternoon.

The troupe is in Washington for its performance at the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Wednesday, as this year's Christmas tree on the Capitol West Lawn was chosen from the Kootenai National Forest in Montana.

The program at the Chinese embassy had a strong Chinese flavor, just going by the names of the performances, such as Inner Mongolian Milking Cow Dance, The Wild Montana Turkey That Flew to Beijing, and Bamboo Hat Dance from The Red Detachment of Women, one that amazed the audience and won huge applause.

"I love China," said Louie Plant Sr, a professional fancy dancer from the Salish Kootenai Nation and a RMBT principal dancer and leader of the Intertribal Pow Wow throughout China in Diplomacy tours in 2008, 2010 and 2014. He went on all three of the trips.

For Charlene Campbell Carey, the ballet's artistic director, The Engelmann Spruce Tree & Her Dazzling Companions was the highlight. It was created for the Capitol Tree lighting.

"This last piece you are going to see is to honor our beautiful tree," Carey told the audience before the dance.

US Senator Steve Daines and US Representative Greg Gianforte, both from Montana, and their wives were in the audience on Monday, accompanied by Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai.

"I can't tell you how proud I am today as a Montanan that the Rocky Mountain Ballet troupe is here to perform at the Chinese embassy," said Daines, who worked in China for six years in the 1990s for the US company Procter & Gamble.

The senator said that he and his wife Cindy both felt a connection to the Chinese people and experienced many highlights of their lives while living in China.

He marveled at the rapid growth of the Chinese economy, which ballooned from less than $500 billion in 1992 to nearly $11.5 trillion in 2016. "The change seen is remarkable. That is why an event like this culture exchange is even more important," he said.

Gianforte, who took office in June, said, "I am thrilled that the Rocky Mountain Ballet is here. I could call each one of them an ambassador as well, because true, that's what they do."

He praised the troupe for traveling the world building cultural bridges.

"We need to build bridges, so we can find common ground," Gianforte said of China and the US. There are an awful lot of cowboys in Montana that are very active in having this relationship (with China), that our beef is going to be on the dinner table in China. We appreciate that connection."

China resumed imports of US beef in July after a 13-year ban, generating excitement in Montana and other major US cattle-farming states.

Cui said mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples is the "real foundation for long-standing relations between our two countries".

"Today, it's a very unique opportunity for us to have the Rocky Mountain Ballet giving us that performance in the embassy," he said. "I am sure by working together we will build stronger and more robust cooperation ties between China and Montana and inject new impetus to the relations and friendship between our two great peoples."

chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com