Friday, August 8, 2008

Dancing Beijing and the Dragon Ladies of Beihai Park

Dancing Beijing is the Chinese chop or seal chosen as the emblem to represent China's long journey to the 2008 Olympic Games. It is said that Dancing Beijing represents "the heart of an ancient culture embracing the modern world and the spirit of a people moving toward a new destiny." From my more than three week perspective living and working here - I could not agree more and this emblematic tribute perfectly befits this fascinating, much misunderstood nation.

Quite honestly, my overseas colleagues and fellow long-time Olympic collaborators and I dreaded for months having to come here. And most all of us - if not all of us, over the days, weeks and months now spent here, have had our eyes and our minds heaved wide open to this fantastic place called Zhong Guo; the nation that has so quickly captured our hearts and so easily forgiven us our doubts. We are both delighted and humbled by our experience, so far, and we ponder how we might have been so wrong.

I am not here to discuss or excuse the controversial aspects of this nation; I have no doubt to the validity of those concerns. But I can tell you this without hesitation: the foreign media's disservice to China is absolutely unfathomable; Beijing is a vibrant, fascinating city that celebrates both its ancient heritage and its modern awakening; and every single person I have met here has embraced me with a kindness and courtesy that is unmatched in my previous travels anywhere else in this world. I can also tell you that there are two sides to every story and you just get to hear one. As the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games begins tonight, you have a chance to glimpse another side.

The people I've met, from co-workers and taxi cab drivers and everyone else in between, in no way deserve the disdain the world is so quick to exact. So tonight, come dance with Beijing -- take a moment to watch the first part of the Opening Ceremony that so stunningly conveys the fluid, graceful, and oft hidden beauty that is the people and the place called Zhong Guo - and celebrate with them as this nation rises up from the middle kingdom bearing a torch to light the world.

In the spirit of Dancing Beijing I leave you with the dragon ladies of Beihai Park, who, like the Dancing Beijing emblem, embody the boundless spirit of this nation with their sinuous silky curves cutting fluid arcs of dragon tails in the early morning hours of this mesmerizing city.

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