China Report: First performance

December 14, 2007 at 4:16 pm (General Information, Overseas Tour) (, , , )

Waiting for Pinkerton - Photo: Neil G Jarman

What started out as a challenging day turned out very well. We had a major battle to persuade the theatre to put the heating on and the dancers did class wrapped up in scarves and woolly hats. At the same time, the Symphony Orchestra of China Opera and Dance Drama Theatre arrived from Hangzhou. Assistant Music Director, Nigel Gaynor has been in China for nearly two weeks rehearsing the three orchestras we will use throughout the tour. They proceeded to set up their chairs, music stands and instruments on the pit lift – I have never seen so many players in such a small space – more than 40 of them! Once the pit lift had descended to performance height there was no way in or out other than climbing ladders – probably the most undignified entrance Nigel has ever made to conduct a performance!

The theatre flying systems was somewhat eccentric and it was only possible to fly two things at any one time and also at the speed that it chose – dead slow. Stage Manager, Chun Yen, did an excellent job adjusting the cues to ensure the rehearsal (and ultimately the performance) ran as smoothly as possible.

We had requested a child to play Trouble in the production and were fortunate enough to have four brought to the theatre for us to choose from. This was fine but obviously disappointing for those not selected for the one performance in Wuxi.

The performance went extremely well and we played to a full house of entirely Chinese. Their applause was not what we are used to in the UK but the fact that they stayed to the end and were engaged throughout were testament to their enjoyment of the production. Andy Waddington and our Technical Team did a great job as did the dancers and orchestra.

Another memorable sight from the day was seeing the auditorium set for the performance and all you could see were hundreds of Chiakis on carrier bags from the sponsors left on the seats for the audience. We set off for Hangzhou by coach first thing tomorrow morning. One down and nine or ten to go!!

so many players in such a small space

hundreds of Chiakis on carrier bags

Hazardous technical work

undignified entrance - Photos: Neil G Jarman

Chiaki and Pippa - Photo: Neil G Jarman

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China Report: Another day in Wuxi

December 13, 2007 at 11:05 am (Overseas Tour) (, , , , , )

NBT at Wuxi Hospital - Photo: Neil G Jarman

Well, it’s been a slightly bizarre day. We went to a local dance school to use a studio for class but they don’t tape the lino down here, which would have made it dangerous to dance on. Fortunately, we had tape so that was quickly resolved and we were joined by a group of budding young ballerinas keen to watch us and have photographs taken. After class 12 of us went to a hospital, which is sponsoring our performance in Wuxi. It seemed to be some sort of PR stunt with TV cameras and photographers and we were taken on a guided tour and all led into a room with an injured solider lying in bed with his family which was a little strange but he seemed to appreciate the visit! We were then taken to the Board Room and sat round the table and given fruit and water and then posed for photographs with the Director of the hospital. We were all given ceramic figures as gifts – Wuxi is renowned for these figures – and at least the dancers got to ride in the stretch limos. All seems to be progressing OK at the theatre but a cinema screen flying in an unhelpful position on stage means that the set will have to be quite far upstage. Wardrobe are having problems with the power tripping out when they plug in the steamer to prepare the costumes but this is all in a days work in China.

Mark Skipper

Chief Executive, NBT

Young Observers. Photo Neil G Jarman

Checking Wardrobe

First Class in China

Wuxi Hospital

Back in the Limo

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First Letter from China

December 12, 2007 at 2:17 pm (General Information, Overseas Tour) (, , , , , )

Northern Ballet Theatre has just started a four-week tour to China performing Madame Butterfly in 7 cities.Two busloads of dancers, Stage Management, a Physiotherapist and a Pianist arrived at the Haiyue Star Hotel in Wuxi after a journey lasting more than 24 hours. From West Park, Leeds by coach to Manchester Airport, flight to Paris, 4 hour wait, 11 hour flight to Shanghai and then a 4 hour bus journey to Wuxi. All arrived looking a little the worse for wear but with only one missing bag belonging to Mikhaila Pye, Wardrobe Assistant.

I made the similar journey yesterday with the Technical Department although the journey from Shanghai to Wuxi only took 2½ hours! After checking into the hotel, we took a visit to the Wuxi People’s Great Auditorium to work out the logistics for the fit up on Thursday. We were slightly concerned to be told that 13 of us were going in 2 cars – it was true but not the sort of cars we were expecting (see photo)!

Andy Waddington, Technical Director has gone off on day trip to Nanjing and Yangzhou to check out theatres in those cities which we will play later in the tour.

The Haiyue Star is a nice enough hotel but the restaurant menu entirely in Chinese is more than a little challenging! What we can see of the City of Wuxi is a little gray and uninspiring. Tomorrow the dancers have an optional class followed by a visit to a local hospital, which is apparently sponsoring our performance in Wuxi.

Mark Skipper
Chief Executive NBT 

Tour Schedule
14 December People’s Great Auditorium, WUXI
16 December Grand Theatre, HANGZHOU
17 December Grand Theatre, HANGZHOU
21 December Poly Theatre, BEIJING
22 December Poly Theatre, BEIJING
23 December Poly Theatre, BEIJING
27 December Grand Theatre, HEFEI (May be cancelled)
29 December Zijin Theatre, NANJING
31 December Grand Theatre, YANGZHOU
3 January Grand Theatre, SHANGHAI
4 January Grand Theatre, SHANGHAI

Crew Car Wuxi - Photo by Neil Jarman

Peoples Great Auditorium Wuxi

Haiyue Hotel Wuxi

View over Wuxi - Photo: Neil Jarman

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