Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Dancing to Understanding

Project #
Mount Holyoke College
  • Dian Liu

Dian Liu’s project was dedicated to promoting peace and understanding between Tibetans and Han Chinese (the predominant ethnic group in China) by teaching the traditions of Tibetan dance. Dian recognized that, while there are many efforts to establish positive relationships through schools and buildings, there have been few efforts dedicated to preserving, understanding, and appreciating Tibetan culture. As a dancer and choreographer, Dian dreamed of playing a part in a deeper awareness and understanding of traditional Tibetan dance.

Working with Caochangdi Workstation, one of the largest and most influential nonprofit dance organizations in China, Dian selected six professional choreographers from over 100 applicants to participate in her project. The group traveled to Lhasa, Tibet for a four-week intensive cultural immersion program where they observed and studied traditional Tibetan dance and drama and made important connections with the local community through homestays and volunteer opportunities. Upon returning from Lhasa, each of the
choreographers developed dance pieces and organized workshops based on what they’d learned. The performances and workshops were held throughout the summer, and intense interest has mandated the continuation and expansion of the performances. Dian’s goals were more than realized; the Han Chinese audiences were  appreciative of the displays and insights into Tibetan culture, and the Tibetan people were shown that the Han Chinese respect and appreciate that culture.