Distracted by Inner Mongolian sub zero temperatures, flights galore and simply trying to stay warm in our hotels, I have been somewhat slacking on my blogging and forgive me, but I am slipping back a fortnight and going to tell some tales of our adventure in Beijing.
We were called in early for rehearsals and just a few hours later, we were on stage with no costumes, dancing shoes or proper sound system…just sheer, raw talent and a determination to provide entertainment to the best of our ability. We were also treated to the fantastic blind Chinese band who belted out tunes such as “Reel Around The Sun” from the show and it was a pleasure for all of us to witness this and songs from the talented Emma Warren and Ben Mapp. We even dragged audience members up for a ceili and taught “The Walls of Limerick”, a traditional Irish team dance.
This week I bring you pictures from Beijing and Zhengzhou, Henan. This was my second time to Beijing, and my first time entering the Forbidden City in Tiananmen Square. Under pressure for time I speedily tried to absorb my surroundings taking in the grand scale and ornately detailed buildings.
Lying south on the bank of the fabulous Yellow River, Zhenzhou proudly took on the capital of the Henan Province in the late 14th Century BC. It is one of the Eight Great Ancient Capital Cities of China. It is as vibrant a city as any Beijing or Shanghai. Despite the cold sub zero temperatures I layered on the thermals and did my usual touristy ramble.
When we are touring at Christmas, we organise what’s known as “Secret Santa”. Our Christmas Night party was spectacular. With a scrumptious feast of turkey and ham and not one, but three different desserts! We revealed our ‘Secret Santa’ identities. Since we are eight hours ahead, we waited until later in the night and many of us retreated to our rooms to make calls to home via Skype. It is difficult particularly at Christmas, being away from home. But with Christmas spirit in bucket loads amongst our cast and crew, we had such a lovely Christmas here in China.
Since my last blog, the Moy Company has been travelling intensely through the Christmas season. We have encountered some culturally engaging moments that I have hopefully captured for you visually.
Firstly I will delve into my experience at Ciqikou in the very large city of Chongqing. This was one of my favorite days of the tour so far. Walking down alleyways and streets with vendors, surrounded by a preserved historical setting. I felt like I was on a movie set depicting Ancient China.
Severe weather conditions cause the delay of the arrival of the show trucks in Beijing thus cancelling the opening night and rescheduling the show. (In Riverdance”s 17 year history, this show is only the second show to be cancelled in advance. The last time was a fire at the venue in Madrid in 2001.
With the VIP guests assembled in Beijing, the show must go on. Snr Executive producer, Julian Erskine tweets from Beijing “the company entertain the 200 guests with an impromptu show..“
Performing on Christmas Day, we kept the spirits alive. Last minute trickery was being carried out by each of our secret santas.
The excitement grew when our wardrobe department appeared with mandatory tinsel and Santa hats for the finale performance. Our principal performers Callum Spencer and Siobhan Manson reminded me of a very special Mr. and Mrs. Claus sporting their red and white hats!
Dongguan presented an array of choice for the very famous Chinese hotpot. I recently discovered the Chinese translation means ‘fire pot’. It originates back to Mongolia over one thousand years ago and spread to south China during the Tang Dynasty. Featured here is Dan Dorrance impatiently waiting for his pork, beef and chicken to cook in the boiling chili oil! To our ignorance the waiters spoke no English. We were forced to make hideous farm animal impressions to specify our liking. Upon clucking like chicken and using arms as wings the picked up on our meaning. Literally. Chicken Licken on a plate. Head, feet, the works!
The Guangzhou Zhonghshan Memory Hall was a sight to behold, a fabulous exterior and huge inside! With a full cast of experienced dancers and musicians, rehearsals were short and sweet and it was soon warm-up time for our first show of the tour in Guangzhou. With an expected audience of 12,000 people over the weekend, it was no surprise to walk out to a packed theatre. The reception we got was phenomenal and what Julian Erskine (Executive producer) described as “the best I have ever seen in China!”. It certainly was a good way to kick off what promises to be a fascinating and memorable tour.