Thank you for your message of choosing love in the face of hate. You are a difference-maker.
These words were written by an audience member about our finale, which was a mini dance drama set before, during, and after the Second Sino-Japanese War. Beginning with the glamor of 1930s Shanghai, giving way to the unspeakable horror of the Nanjing Massacre, and closing with the magnanimous Chinese mothers who raised Japanese orphans in the aftermath of the war, the piece prompted reflection on how we can all choose love in the face of hate in our everyday lives.
The Nanjing Massacre is a painful chapter in Chinese history, resulting in roughly 300,000 lives taken over a six-week period. Not only were soldiers executed on mass, but large scores of the city’s most vulnerable citizens – women, children, the elderly – were raped and mutilated to death in the most unspeakable terms. While it is near and dear to the hearts of the Chinese, this horrific massacre is largely unknown in mainstream American culture. When ACDC Co-Artistic Director Kerry Lee shared an article she wrote about this topic on social media in honor of the 80th anniversary on December 13, 2017, many of her artist-activist colleagues were stunned that they had no idea about this history and felt compelled to share it with their networks.
Importantly, the mini dance drama exposed hate not to shame the enemy or seek revenge, but rather to honor the forgotten heroes who chose love in the face of hate. One such example are the rural Chinese families who took in Japanese orphans in the aftermath of the war, despite their deep-seated hatred of the Japanese due to atrocities such as the Nanjing Massacre. For these rural women, their maternal instincts triumphed over their initial desire to beat up the Japanese orphans they encountered in the streets. From the depths of their hate, they chose love – sharing what precious little they had to raise children of the enemy as their own.
Taking on the Nanjing Massacre through dance was a big risk. At first whenever we told people about it, their eyes would widen – silently and not-so-silently wondering why we would choose something so disturbing when everyone loves the colorful dances we perform in pretty costumes. The end result exceeded our expectations – audiences young and old, Chinese and non-Chinese, male and female – were moved to tears. Our message of choosing love in the face of hate struck a chord in people from all walks of life – especially in today’s challenging times, when mass shootings, acts of terror, nuclear threats, and sexual assault scandals are in the news everyday. It also caught the attention of both English and Chinese press that had never covered us before. For the first time ever, we were previewed by ArtsATL and two reporters from China Central Television flew down from Chicago to cover the mini dance drama. The segment was broadcast nationally throughout China and for overseas Chinese around the world!