Pearl S. Buck Celebrated in Dance at Lincoln Center
Helaine Feldman, Contributing Writer, August 21, 2015
Pearl, a multi-visual celebration in dance of the life of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and humanitarian Pearl S. Buck, comes to the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center from August 7-30. Buck, who devoted her career to writing about Asian peoples and culture, has her story vividly brought to life through the art of dance in a program highlighting the closing of the East-West divide.
This spectacular World Premiere production is presented in five symbolic stages—Spring, River, Flower, Moon and Night—based on the work of Tang dynasty poet Zhang Ruoxu and directed and choreographed by Daniel Ezralow, the man behind the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony. It features a cast of more than 30 North American and Chinese dancers, including internationally acclaimed modern dance artist Margie Gillis, performing on the largest set ever built on a Lincoln Center stage.
Author and civil and women’s rights activist Pearl S. Buck was born in 1892 to Presbyterian missionaries working in China and spent most of her early life in that country. She began to publish stories and essays in the 1920s and her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published in 1930. She is best known for her second novel, The Good Earth, depicting family life and the shifting fortunes in a Chinese village during the first quarter of the 20th century, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and was adapted into a major MGM film in 1937. In 1938, she won the Nobel Prize in literature, the first American women to do so. By the time of her death in 1973, Buck had published over 70 books, novels, collections of stories, poetry, children’s literature and translations from the Chinese. Other novels turned into movies include China Sky and The Dragon Seed.
As a humanitarian, Buck was active in efforts to protect Asian Americans from racial intolerance and to improve disadvantaged Asian Americans’ living conditions. To do so, she founded the East and West Association, dedicated to cultural exchange and understanding between Asia and the West; founded Welcome House, the first international, interracial adoption agency; and established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation to further “address the issues of poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asian countries.” She died in 1973.