Shanghai troupe to honor Chinese educator in NYC

Updated: 2014-10-14 05:22

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Shanghai troupe to honor Chinese educator in NYC

Chinese educator and reformer Tao Xingzhi, played by Liang Weiping, is commemorated in a new musical performance entitled The Chinese Dream of a Hundred Years. The show was presented by the Shanghai Huaiju Troupe in New York on Monday.[amy he / CHINA DAILY]

To honor the 100th anniversary of Chinese educator and reformer Tao Xingzhi's time spent studying at Columbia University in New York, the Shanghai Huaiju Troupe will debut a musical performance that celebrates the educator's life.

The performance, A Chinese Dream of 100 Years, was organized by the China America Friendship Association USA and SMG Performing Arts Group and will be performed between Oct 13 and Oct 27 at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and Dartmouth universities, and the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Toronto.

"We decided that the first show should be at Columbia University because of Teacher Tao's time spent there, and we thought it would be more meaningful that way," Wang Jianqiang, leader of the Shanghai Huaiju Troupe, told China Daily.

Born in Anhui, China, in 1891, Tao attended Huiwen College in Nanjing before going to study in the US. He received a master's in political science from the University of Illinois.

Tao then went to the Teachers College at Columbia University in 1914, returning to China three years later. It was at Columbia where he learned about educational philosophy under a disciple of American educational reformer John Dewey. Tao later went on to publish a piece called An Introduction to Dewey's Educational Theories in 1919.

Tao had said that his life goals were "to create a democracy by education and not by military revolution" and that he realized that "no genuine republic could exist without a genuine public education", according to Stacey Bieler, research associate at the Global China Center in Michigan.

After returning to China, Tao organized an education movement in China called the National Association of Mass Education Movements, and promoted teacher education extensively. He later founded the Xiaozhuang Normal College in Nanjing, which trained teachers who were sent to the countryside.

In Nanjing there is a memorial site to Tao built in 1951, which includes a tomb and a museum commemorating the reformer. It is run by the Xiaozhuang Normal College.

A Chinese Dream of 100 Years will combine Chinese opera-style performances with Western musical influences, troupe leader Wang said, because audiences may not have previous exposure to traditional Chinese opera.

"Traditional Chinese opera is not something that everybody can completely get used to, so we've taken music styles from the west to incorporate into the show so that American audiences will enjoy it as well," he said, which include musical harmonies used more in Western musical performances than those from China.

"We really hope that through our performance, more people can learn about what teacher Tao was able to bring to education in China and the way he changed how people thought about education reform," Wang said.