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UB Confucius Institute to Mark Grand Opening with Traditional Chinese Music and Dance

By Nathan Fulk

Release Date: April 1, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will celebrate the grand opening of its Confucius Institute on April 9 with a ceremony featuring lively Chinese music and colorful dance, along with welcoming remarks by UB President John B. Simpson and Gong Huili, executive president of Capital Normal University in Beijing.

The ceremony will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre in UB's Center for the Arts on the North Campus. The program will include traditional and contemporary performances by students from the UB Department of Theatre and Dance and the College of Music at Capital Normal University, as well as professional dancer Xingqiong He from Chengdu, China, and the Chinese Club of Western New York Dance Troupe.

The program will include the dazzling "Long Ribbon Dance," signifying the yearning of the ancient Chinese to learn the secrets of eternal life; the beautiful "Jasmine Flower," popularized for Western audiences as a theme song of the Beijing Olympics; and "To Study," a dance inspired by "The Analects" of Confucius.

The Chinese Consulate in New York City will be represented at the opening ceremony by education counselor Jianjun Cen, who will give congratulatory remarks along with UB Provost Satish K. Tripathi.

In one of the first activities of the new Confucius Institute, UB dancers have been learning Chinese dance techniques, training under the direction of He, a choreographer, teacher and performer in the Chengdu Musical Theater Troupe who has been in residence at UB since January.

"This is a landmark event in the long, ongoing history of UB's engagement with China, and in particular our historic and vital partnership with Capital Normal University," says Stephen C. Dunnett, vice provost for international education and chair of the advisory board for the Confucius Institute.

"In the 30 years since UB became the first U.S. university to enter China and sign agreements with key institutions in Beijing, Capital Normal has played a major role in the development of Chinese language and culture studies at UB," says Dunnett. "This university has sent excellent teachers of Chinese to teach at UB, as well as receiving many UB students for programs in Chinese language and culture at CNU. It is fitting that in this anniversary year we celebrate this new and expanded phase in our collaboration with CNU."

Part of a network of 300 Confucius Institutes around the world, the Confucius Institute at UB is dedicated to promoting the teaching of Chinese language and culture in Western New York. The institute is a collaborative program involving UB's Asian Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences; Capital Normal University, UB's longstanding partner in Beijing; and the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), which will provide significant funding.

Through the Confucius Institute, UB plans to provide expert teachers from Capital Normal University to local schools to help establish or expand Chinese language programs; offer Chinese language classes and cultural orientation for businesses, government officials and community groups; organize study tours to China; present Chinese language and culture summer camps; and establish a China film and lecture series.

Kristin Stapleton, associate professor of history and director of UB's Asian Studies Program, has been appointed director of the Confucius Institute. Stapleton says that UB has been able to attract two talented and energetic people to carry out its mission.

The Asian Studies Program recently hired an executive director, Wenzhong (Eric) Yang, to manage the operations of the new Confucius Institute. Yang comes to UB from Michigan State University, where he served as associate director of the U.S.-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence.

"We expect the programs and resources provided by UB's Confucius Institute to have a major impact on teaching about China in Western New York," Yang says, "helping students, businesspeople and other community members better understand the language and people of this large, influential and complex country."

Yang will be joined by Xiaopeng Du, associate professor of English Language and Literature at Capital Normal University, who will serve a two-year term as associate director of the Confucius Institute.

"I am thrilled to be at UB to help launch this important new institute and to provide people in the Buffalo area with a better understanding of China," says Du. "Capital Normal University has an excellent relationship with UB dating back many years, and we are very pleased to be able to support the new Confucius Institute in Buffalo."

For more information about the Confucius Institute and the opening ceremony, contact Yang at 716-645-7919 or wenzhong@buffalo.edu.