The China Arts and Entertainment Group settled into New York for a short festival (four days) of their national award-winning dance drama named “Confucius” at the Lincoln Center Koch Theater. As their teacher and philosopher who “shaped the nation,” he has been heralded (and derided) over decades, depending upon the Chinese leadership.

Prelude: (Inquiry) This lavish production portrays the six époques of Confucius’s life and influence in China beginning in 497 B.C. It opens with a visual commemoration of his valued teachings of Benevolence and Etiquette.

Act 1: (Chaotic Time) traces his relationship with the Duke’s Concubine who taught him the values of Benevolence (and probably a few other things).

Act 2: (Out of Food) War and famine ravages the land but Confucius continues to spread his magnanimous doctrines and zither music throughout the land. The Duke is not pleased.

Act 3: (Great Harmony) It was not to be, as war continued apace. Confucius persists. Finally out of respect, the Duke gives him a sword as a symbol of honor.

Act 4: (Mourning for Benevolence)

Sadly, violence continues with war, strife and misery during which time Confucius continues to preach Benevolence. The orchid plays a major role in this segment, flourishing in adversity they diffuse fragrance to the world.

Epilogue (Happiness)

After 14 years of travels along with his disciples, Confucius returns home. His teachings have finally brought harmony, prosperity, and “Benevolence” to Chinese history for 2000 years (of course, with occasional, historic interruptions.).

Long out of favor during the height of the Communist teachings, Confucius is apparently back “in fashion” and being deified as a force for good. (Yes, there are fashions in politics as well.)

China has declared 2049 as the ultimate deadline for reclaiming what they believe have been their rights and ownership of lands, properties and water/islands in the Pacific for over 10,000 years. Their attempts to disseminate cultural and historical information throughout the world are probably part of their efforts to make these goals more understandable to the rest of the world. (Read: Simon Winchester’s “The Man Who Loved China,” which explains the many historic volumes of “Science and Civilisation in China” at Oxford University.)

Back to the Dance: This glamorous, flowing and athletic presentation dramatizes the incredible expertise of the dancers and costume designers, not to mention the Director Kong Dexin, a graduate of Beijing Dance Academy and the 77th generation direct descendant of Confucius.

This very fact assured us that this ballet is not the Falun Gong group.

Barbara Tober

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