A Dancer in Macau, part 2

July 20, 2010 at 10:54 am (Dancers, dancers' diaries, Hong Kong & Macau 2010, Overseas Tour) (, , , , )

Here’s Hannah‘s final report from the international tour…

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Friday in Macau

We had class today at 12.30 – 13.45, then straight into the tech at 14.00- 17.00 with the Orchestra here in Macau. Time for a quick swim after early breakfast, a dip in the pool is a really great way to start a day! The tech went really well and the Orchestra sounded great, I keep my ear’s open as it’s only human nature to go on auto pilot after hearing the recording for a week or so. A live orchestra really does give a show that extra lift and edge of excitement. The show was a success and people of Macau relished the chance to scream ‘yes’ to believing in fairies. Room service at the hotel for me after the show and then bed ASAP, starting to feel like the end of the season!

Ayana and Christie

Ayana and Christie

Julie at the mirrors, there certainly isn't a lack of space!

Julie at the mirrors, there certainly isn't a lack of space!

The Stars...

The Stars...

Saturday the last day

The rain is beating down at quite a rate but I think we will be typhoon-free or at least if it could hold off till we take our flights home tomorrow that would be great. Tonight is David Ward’s last show with the Company and a chance for us all to say farewell to him before he departs for a new adventure in Ballet Met, Ohio, USA. We also say a fond farewell to Georgina Gabbie (Doll) who is leaving us to tour with Evita. David and Georgina will be very much missed.

We had class with Dan today at 11.30 and then double duty with performances at 14.30 and 19.30. In between the shows I took the 4 minute walk back to the hotel to get on top of my luggage, literally! Some people went for a last afternoon dip in the pool.

Show went really well tonight, extra excitement as so many of the dancers will be on their way home tomorrow to see family they haven’t seen for up to a year. I am sure there will be much celebration this evening!

The auditorium at Macau Cultural Centre

The auditorium at Macau Cultural Centre

The Darling nursery all set for the final show

The Darling nursery all set for the final show

Loads of room backstage, the pirate ship can be laid our flat

Loads of room backstage, the pirate ship can be laid our flat

Ash putting his priate belly to good use as an iPhone stand!

Ash putting his priate belly to good use as an iPhone stand!

Sunday, home time!

We left at 9.30am from the Grand Lapa, which we have all enjoyed calling home for the last five days. We are off to all four corners of the globe as we also start our summer break today: Japan, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and so on.

I have really enjoyed this overseas summer tour and would like to take this opportunity to thank all our fab techies, our great physio, Adam, who goes out of his way to make sure all of us are fit, well and happy. The ballet staff, music staff, wardrobe and Doll. But also my fellow dancers who I am always honoured to share a stage with. Every department has pulled together as only NBT can and have really pulled off eight wonderful shows to be proud of

I asked around and highlights of this tour have been the pool (!), the amazing audiences in HK and Macau, spending time together, all touring departments, the Cirque [de Soleil] show and getting to dance aboard. It has been a long season from August last year to now. We started with Dracula and have ended with Peter Pan. We had a crazy busy but awesome Christmas season with the Alumni Christmas Carol and the highlight that was the Gala. I feel privileged to do this job and I am well aware I couldn’t do it if NBT didn’t have the support of all our friends and audiences. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

First things we will be doing when we get home, having a cup of tea! Being reunited with family and pets who include Kitri and Basilio the Yorkshire Terriers in France and Coco the Boxer in Italy. I am off to Koh Samui, and then back to Yorkshire to rescue my garden! Till next time, it’s good bye to HK and Macau and hello holidays!!!

Good bye from all of us and see you in September! (Vicky, Christie and Micky)

Good bye from all of us and see you in September! (Vicky, Christie and Micky)

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A Dancer in Macau

July 16, 2010 at 2:35 pm (Artist's News, Dancers, dancers' diaries, Hong Kong & Macau 2010, Overseas Tour) (, , , , , )

Following on from her journal about Hong Kong, Hannah tells is about taking Peter Pan to Macau…

Monday: on to Macau

At 11.45 we met at the foyer of the YMCA Hong Kong for a 12.00 on-the-dot leave to the ferry terminal. We put our cases into what looked like a Chinese bin lorry and then onto an air conditioned coach. Not too far to drive and everyone is double checking they have everything they need and are all organised. We were all hoping for a quick, smooth journey over to Macua, as the sooner we got there, the sooner we could start the ‘day off’. A bizarre check-in period: we were ushered in groups of ten from one official to another until we got to the seating area and were abruptly told to, ‘sit, wait’! It was slightly painful as we loaded all 60 plus of us into a lift, 5 at a time, to the ferry terminal area but we got to the boarding area eventually!

WAITING, things happen slowly in China and you just have to give in to it !

WAITING, things happen slowly in China and you just have to give in to it !

A few of us have slightly delicate stomachs but travel sickness tablets are very reliable and we have travel bands on too. All ready for the 60 min crossing to Macau, or Mini Vegas as it is nicknamed.

All seated and ready for (fingers crossed) a smooth ferry ride, on the TurboJet

All seated and ready for (fingers crossed) a smooth ferry ride, on the TurboJet

Giuliano & Yoshi

Giuliano & Yoshi

So our 1hr 30min journey turned into a 5hr journey door-to-door. By the time we got to our rooms we were all feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, very hot and uncomfortable. Time for a shower to cool off and calm down. So as we waited for our luggage to arrive at to our hotel rooms we went to explore the hotel and all was forgiven when we found this…

The Pool!

The Pool!

We raced back to our rooms. Yippee! A tropical pool !!! Gleeful smiles on all our faces and the journey was forgotten!

Yoshi prepares for the pool

Yoshi prepares for the pool

A very kind man named Victor, one of the wonderful staff at the Grand Lapa, helped a few of us book tickets and travel to the Venetian over on Taipei to see Zaia a Cirque du Soliel. It started at 8pm and we left our hotel and pool at 7pm. There are free shuttle services between most of the main casino’s 24hr a day, yet more evidence of just how much money the casinos actually make. The show was out of this world as Cirque shows always are. Just think of what ballet could do with half a cirque budget! Oh to dream. On Monday night we all slept very well indeed!

Orchids in the foyer at the Grand Lapa, makes mine at home look pretty sad!

Orchids in the foyer at the Grand Lapa, makes mine at home look pretty sad!

Ready for the Cirque du Soleil show

Ready for the Cirque du Soleil show

Grand canal inside the Ventian Resort and Hotel

Grand canal inside the Ventian Resort and Hotel

Tuesday: our long-awaited day off

Most of us took advantage of a lie in and just made it for breakfast, which had something to suit all of our many nationalities. Then straight back to the pool for us all. The techies didn’t start till 2pm assuming their containers arrived on time.

The atmosphere at the pool was great. There were hardly any other guests and NBT had taken over in the best possible way. We all got to spend some quality time together and after five excellent shows in Hong Kong we felt like we deserved some time out. As dancers seem to always do, there was a lot of practicing of lifts in the water, a great place to practice with the only worry being water up the nose!

Ash, John and David were practicing propelling Thomas into the air to see how far they could throw him to allow him enough time to do multiple somersaults! The techies helped out too and also scored the highest out of 10 for their efforts. We all started to have ago on this kind of human trampoline. My first attempt was rubbish as was attempt #2. Determined not to be the worst one I gave it one last shot. Apparently it was a very, very good somersault but I was somewhat distracted with a slight wardrobe malfunction! Let’s just say a bikini isn’t the best attire to somersault in! I did get 10 out of 10, even if the crowd had gotten more than they bargained for! Good job we are all good friends!!

NBT Girls 'work it' at the pool, sorry all those left at West Park!

NBT Girls 'work it' at the pool, sorry all those left at West Park! (We'll get you back - Ed)

All at the pool side

All at the pool side

Yoshi prepares for Swan Lake in September!

Yoshi prepares for Swan Lake in September!

At 1.30pm David, Kenny and Micky had to drag themselves away to a press conference. This was a great experience for the Peter, Hook and Tink. All the Macau media were there and it was televised in mainland China, and Macau in English, Chinese, Mandarin and Portuguese! It lasted well over an hour and after the three of them where all talked out!

In the afternoon we took a slow walk in the heat around the MGM Grand and theatre. Some went to see Usher performing at the Ventian. Early to bed for me though, Mr. Nixon for class tomorrow morning!

The Theatre, Macau Cultural Centre

The Theatre, Macau Cultural Centre

Poster outside the Theatre, this is also the stage door

Poster outside the Theatre, this is also the stage door

Wednesday: Just class today

Mr Nixon for class at 10 till 11.30 today and then the rest of the day off. Full day for our techies and the local crew. They are finding the heat insufferable, I can’t imagine how horrid it must be to load in a show in humidity, I find it hard enough to pull my own body around let alone a load of set and lights, stage-weights etc.

Class with Mr Nixon was awesome, really got us stretched out and ready. He can be very inspiring as can Yoko. It’s great to always be encouraged to improve and hone our technique rather than just go through the motions of class.

The theatre seems great: large and very clean. They don’t quite have the individualism of our theatres back home but they do the job very well. More of a look around in the afternoon, and I treat myself to a Thai massage, heaven indeed! Salsa night at the MGM Lion bar, you don’t have to ask dancers to do this more than once. Then off to bed, not too late, tech tomorrow.

This was a gift from Mainland China to Macau

This was a gift from Mainland China to Macau

The MGM Lion

The MGM Lion

View over to Taipei

View over to Taipei

Thursday: Class and a Tech

Class at 1.30, so time for a morning swim. Then class with Yoko, excellent. David felt like we had all been doing really well and there was no need for a separate flying rehearsal, so thank you all the Peter’s and Darling children! We moved on through the day and completed the tech by 5.50pm. We all got to finish early and had the evening off. Lots of people took advantage of the free Wifi at the theatre and sent messages home.

Three shows to go. We stopped of at the Sofitel Hotel as they had a really good Micheal Jackson exhibition on and then off to bed. It’s business as usual tomorrow: technical rehearsal with the Macau orchestra and then our first show in Macau.

By the way today we were issued with a level 1 typhoon warning! Umm … should I be worried?

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Staged Adventures in the Orient

July 16, 2010 at 11:33 am (Hong Kong & Macau 2010, Stage) (, , , , , )

Stage manager, Olivia Dermot-Walsh, tells us about the trials, tribulations and thrills of touring overseas…

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We’ve landed! Off the plane and heading for immigration. Everyone is dishevelled and the smokers need cigarettes. We have to go through customs as a group and as soon as we’re free and have collected luggage we charge to the open air for a first look at Hong Kong. As the sliding doors open the heat hits us and we’re drenched in sweat from the colossal humidity and the heat.

The crew ready for the trip...

The crew ready for the trip...

It takes ages for Martin (Deputy Chief Electrician) to come though and we find out that once again he had been held up – this time he was given a “visitor’s visa” instead of a work one and was interviewed while they sorted it out. This happens quite often to the poor chap so everyone laughs a lot.

On the coach to the Hong Kong YMCA

On the coach to the Hong Kong YMCA

Executive arrivals at the YMCA

Executive arrivals at the YMCA

We are ferried to the coach and make the 40 minute drive into mainland Hong Kong. We arrive at 17:15 local time at the hotel. We’re staying at the YMCA and in great oriental style the hotel has a very impressive reception lobby/foyer. Our rooms are bright and spacious with views over the harbour to Hong Kong island.

My two interpreters

My two interpreters

We set off on our first adventure into Hong Kong (also to try and get our body clocks sorted) for beer, food and to celebrate Abi’s (Electrician) birthday. We have a fantastic evening ending with a evening stroll along the waterfront by the venue. The harbour is amazing at night with all the buildings illuminations reflected in the water.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning at 9am Wilky (Steve Wilkins, Technical Manager) is called into the venue to unload the containers. There goes his 12 hour break, poor bloke! The rest of us try and get our bodies to behave as our brains say it’s daytime and our bodies say bedtime. Jet-lag is always funny for the first 3 days and we walk round in a bubble.

Training the new ASM

Training the new ASM

Hong Kong is full of smells, street vendors & bustle. Everyone vies for your attention and I notice how tall I feel at 5′ 7″. Inside the polished air conditioned malls with Gucci, Prada & YSL it feels like another world. I feel under dressed in my flip-flops and shorts. Hong Kong is very mixed metropolis. I love it.

Today is day one of the set build. The crew are call to start at 14:00 hours so I am left to my own devices for a few hours till I start at 19:00. I spend a lovely air-conditioned afternoon in the Hong Kong Cultural Museum and Art Gallery. I have a passion for tea ceramic art and find a wonderful exhibition dedicated to the subject.

I arrive at the venue and find that the stage area is massive – true operatic grandness. There is so much room instead of scene changes we could build complete sets and push one off into the wings, pull the next on and still have room to spare. Truly awesome.

The crew have already built the revolve (the turntable the Jolly Roger spins on) and are laying the sprung dance floor when I arrive. The local crew are very efficient and numerous – there are many more then you’d find in a UK venue. I’m introduced to Agnes, the crew chief, who is lovely, and her Number One, Bo Bo.

With a whole unloading dock to myself I unpack all the props and place the tables out. At 20:00 Wilkie calls a break so that we can all pile out of the venue and watch the famous Hong Kong light show from the water’s edge.

It’s pretty impressive but for us seasoned techies it made us laugh. Then back to work, soon it’s time to finish. Everyone is exhausted but positive.

Wednesday

Day two of the set build. We are all called for 10:00 – another full day of building, focusing and mending. Some of the properties have been trashed in transit, it’s the way it goes! So I spend the whole day with drills, paint, glue gun, burnt fingers and a touch of creativity to polish everything ready for tomorrow’s technical rehearsal.

The rest of the team arrive with the dancers today at 17:15. They won’t be called till 17:30 to cover class and do final props checks/maintenance before the technical rehearsal scheduled for 19:00.

Thursday

Day three of the build: I sleep in till 13:00 and feel better for it. Jet-lag’s nearly ok. I make my way into the venue via good old Starbucks for coffee and (very) hot Danishes. The technical rehearsal goes really well, the local crew really are amazingly efficient.

Friday

Day four of the build & first performance: I call Stage Management for 30mins before stage reset to make sure we ready to go for the dress rehearsal, which goes incredibly smoothly. We have an even smoother opening night!

Jim (Flyman) and I decide to head off the night market after the show but by the time everything is packed up and turned off when we get there. There’s an eerie feeling walking down empty packed up streets that look like they should be full of life. We find an amazing sushi restaurant and have dinner before heading back for sleep.

The Gang

The Gang

Saturday

Day five, back-stage tour & second the third shows: I arrive at 11:30 and set the stage out for the back-stage tour. They can’t tell me if the group coming to visit is young or old so I have Laura Burges (Assistant Stage Manager) and Jim Hannon (Flyman) as technical support for any difficult questions. When the 50 people arrive they are all mothers with small children so we adapt the tour accordingly. It is great fun to watch them all pile into the small rowing boat as their parents snap away with cameras. Next to meet the Crocodile – five small boys descend on our Old Croc and almost hug it to death.

Later we prepare for two shows and everything is going smoothly until the final Nursery scene change when the local flyman pulls back a curtain revealing the crew building the set. All of the local crew hit the decks leaving our crew holding the heavy flats up, their silent black figures motionless until the star-cloth was brought back down. Everyone was safe, but a disappointed sigh escaped our lips. These things happen – it wouldn’t be live theatre if things always went well.

We get to the turn around and find the stage management team only have a half hour break between shows so everyone if rushing around trying to get food down them. Show 3 goes very well with no hiccups so everyone relieved.

Sunday

Day six. A very early class 9:30am (!!) then 2 shows (!!!!!!) and a get out (!!!!!!!!!!). We don’t come up for air till 19:00 when Agnes invites us for farewell dinner. Oh Yeah!

The crew's farewell dinner

The crew's farewell dinner

Farewell dinner spread

Farewell dinner spread

We’re now in Macau in a great hotel under a typhoon warning! The sets are calling, have to go…

View of the theatre from the hotel room in Macau

View of the theatre and pool from the hotel room in Macau

Typhoon warning notices

Typhoon warning notices

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