Taipei (AsiaNews) – Fr Gian Carlo Michelini (秘 克琳 神父) has dedicated his life to the education of young children and teenagers through culture, art and in particular dance. "We have come a long way,” he said, “and the best thing is for our work to continue to bear more abundant fruit."
The Catholic priest arrived in Taiwan in 1964 and studied Chinese in Hsinchu. During the early years on the island, he discovered Chinese opera and was very impressed. Little by little, he thought that some activities for young people based on this type of artistic expression could help promote a more fruitful inner growth.
In 1966, "I set up the Lan Yang Dance Group (蘭 陽 舞曲),” he said, “which later became Lan Yang Luodong Catholic Centre for Youth in Yilan district (宜蘭 縣 羅 東鎮).”
“We were ready to teach dance, incorporating the best cultural elements, especially from Taiwanese minorities and aboriginal people, promoting them so that the richness of this beautiful island would get wider international recognition."
A special moment came in 1973. "I remember that that year we brought the group to Rome, for a performance at the Vatican and for an audience with Paul VI. It was a wonderful experience!”
“This was the first time for us, and gave us energy to continue. We went around the world for seven times, through Latin America, the United States, Europe and several Asian countries. When we left, we stayed away for three months."
In 1991, the Lan Yang Dance Group finished third overall at the International Festival of Folk Dance in Spain. "It was not easy to compete with much more important organisations with more resources. We prepared with great passion and we achieved results no one dared hope for".
The future holds new opportunities. "We are working with UN and UNESCO associations to promote traditional art forms. Fortunately, thanks to the work of our staff and donors, many young people are working constantly to continue the work we begun nearly 50 years ago. Those who were once kids became leaders of a new generation, and today’s kids will become leaders of future generations. For me, this is very encouraging."
It is essential to note, the priest said, that "the most important human and Christian values can be communicated through art. I think about how Jesus used stories and parables to illustrate his teachings. I think about all the artistic, religious and secular, Western and Eastern traditions. Fortunately, one does not live by reason and logic alone. The beauty of artistic expression often communicates much more than a difficult speech."