Princess Wang Zhaojun: The Tale of a Heroine


During the history month of the woman, this writer is glad to learn of the heroics of women in America and throughout the world. Recently I learned of Chinese Princess Wang Zhaojun. Although the true life tale of Chinese princess Wang Qiang, more commonly known as Wang Zhaojun, has been told through the centuries via various storytellers and writers, the story depicted at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, located at 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, written by playwright Yu Ping, composed by Zhang Qu, under the direction of Kong Dexin (who is a 77th-generation direct descendant of Confucius), has brought the story to life in beautiful technicolor. The opulent costumes by Yang Donglin, were incredibly beautiful and his color choices blended together in a kaleidoscope of hues that were a marvel. 

The dance numbers under dance director Xu Ning and choreographers Tian Ye, Tian Zhuang, Jia Guozhu and Liu Bin were graceful and flowing with a strong sense of the masculine and feminine in tandem. There was a boldness, haughtiness and power emanating from the male dancers and a femininity and regal quality expelling from the female dancers like a breath of cool air.

Performed by the China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater, the story of Princess Zhaojun exploded onto center stage dazzling with dynamic color and perpetual motion.  Born to a noble family Wang Zhaojun was known for her great beauty and artistry. She was the child of an older father who considered his daughter the pearl of his old age.

When Emperor Yuan of Han Dynasty chose his concubines, Wang Zhaojun was included among them. This was considered a great honor. Unfortunately the borders of the Han Dynasty were threatened by the invasion of the Xiongnu people, whose monarch was Huhanye Chanyu. Chanyu had expressed a desire for peace so Emperor Yuan attempted to make peace with Huhanye by marrying his daughter off to him in order to unite the two kingdoms. But the Emperor’s daughter did not want to leave the comfort of her palace life to go off with some unknown. So, Wang Zhaojun volunteered. When Huhanye saw how beautiful Zhaojun was he was delighted. Zhaojun herself felt an attraction to Huhanye. 

The couple were married and Zhaojun accompanied her husband back to his homeland where even there warring tribes battled. Seeing how there was a desperate need for peace as year after year passed in ceaseless war, Zhaojun took on the responsibility of bringing the peoples together. This was an arduous task, especially when an epidemic swept the land threatening to kill many people. 

Attempting to stem the crisis, Zhaojun went out into the land and worked among the poor and sick at risk to her own well being and health. Her act of selflessness and love endeared her to the people and to those in the palace. Unfortunately her husband Huhanye Chanyu, whom she had grown to love, died as a result of the epidemic. Despite her grief she worked tirelessly to bring peace to her new country.

The story of Princess Wang Zhaojun could not have been performed more beautifully by the cast of 50 dancers and reminds us all that despite our differences there is always a way to bring peace and harmony if only we remember to love.

Performances are running Friday, March 22nd at 8pm, Saturday, March 23 at 8:00 pm, and Sunday afternoon, March 24th at 1:00 pm. Be sure to see it!

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