Gilded Serpent presents...

Dancing with Tigers

This little girl was so cute! She came to every show for 2 days straight and ran This little girl was so cute! She came to every show for 2 days straight and ran backstage every time I got off stage to change. Think she thought I was a life size Barbie doll.

In China with Fleurs d’Egypte

by Nadira
posted July 6, 2011

In September 2010, five dancers embarked on a unique adventure. Seattle’s Fleurs d’Egypte Dance Company received a contract for a month of performances in China. This sounded like fun, but wait…we only had two weeks to decide, work out a contract, get our affairs in order and head out! Talk about flying by the seat of your bedla!

Because the contract was on such short notice, some of our fabulous Fleurs couldn’t make it, so we had patient and fast learning dancers, Lisa and Ceanna, join us. They not only had the two weeks to get everything in order for travel, but that same amount of time to learn our group dances. They were troupers!

We had no idea what to expect of the actual location. However, with ticket and costumes in hand, we rode the wave. Arriving late at night, we were ushered to our rooms and straight to bed to sleep off our jet lag. We had no concept of the overwhelming size of the park and over-the-top eye-candy awaiting us the next morning!

The hotel houses live white tigers and pink flamingos (each in a different outside atrium, of course) for the dining room view; so we got to "dine" with white tigers at every meal. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a huge fan of the big cats, and I was so excited for every meal. For some of our meals, we were met with what (we later learned) were mascots of the park: different caricature tigers. They messed with (entertained) diners during the meals! It seemed strange at first, but oddly, you got used to them and joined in the fun. There’s also had an enclosed mini zoo in the middle of the hotel to walk through or visible through the glass walls at the bar that houses solid white tigers, black and white swans and a bevy of birds. This was just the hotel; we hadn’t even seen where we would be performing.

The park is split into two main sections with the hotel in the middle. One side of the hotel hosts a massive water park where our soon to be new friends from Samoa and New Zealand performed a Tahitian show daily on a stage over the water. Our side was a theme park that housed all the rides, as well as an odd mix of shows, including a lumber jack show (Yup, real lumber jacks!), a stunt motorcycle show with crazy jumps and pyrotechnics, a Mongolian live band, a Japanese style dance, and our Bellydance show.

If you have been to China, you know that they like bright colors and lots of different kinds of shows. The park’s use of bright colors and over-sized designs are almost cartoon-like and fun. We arrived at our stage and had to laugh; it was an outdoor stage built specifically for us with an Aladdin theme and cacti on either side of the stage. Our backdrop was a massive roller coaster behind the stage. This was a new one for us, but we would rock it.

It took a few weeks to work through the cultural and language barriers, but we finalized our shows. We performed daily several times a day for hundreds of people. They loved the unique style of dance and wanted to take lots of pictures. It got so crazy during the busy days that we had to have security, holding a red rope and forming a barrier between us and the audiences, so we wouldn’t get trampled. It was overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time! Everyone was so excited and appreciative; it felt great to be a part of their positive experience and memories.

Additionally, during our time there, was the Chinese Independence celebration. We were honored to ride on a float and wave to the crowd. Now, I can say that is honestly something I never thought I’d do! Our float was like a scene from the film “Finding Nemo” and had absolutely nothing to do with Bellydance, but it was bright and cheerful! There was an over-sized octopus with lipstick, mascara, and tentacles that reached throughout the float. We each had our spot, and mine was holding onto the gloved finger pointed tentacle at the front with dolphins jumping next to me. I held on to that gloved finger for dear life! It was a blast, and definitely, a unique experience.

We learned there was also a circus and a zoo connected to the park. The circus was “Barnum & Bailey meets Cirque du Soleil”. There was no theme, just lots of animals and visual antics. It brought out the child in all of us, marveling at all that was happening. The zoo housed almost every animal out there. We were allowed to pet and feed giraffes, and of course, lots of tigers! There were newborn tigers, and a “Cub Camp” for the toddlers as well as adults. I was in big cat heaven!

All in all, this was an amazing experience. There were lots of ups and downs getting settled, and it was overwhelming, but the experience outshone it all. It was an honor for me to share this adventure with Fleurs d’Egypte, and I think we have many more to come!

our first view of the colorful park
Our first view of the colorful park
everything in the park was oversized and colorful
Everything in the park was oversized and colorful
first view of the stage with the cacti and roller coaster backdrop
Our first view of the stage with the cacti and roller coaster backdrop
dancing on the outdoor stage, our main stage
Dancing on the outdoor stage, our main stage.
our view from the stage
Our view from the stage
everyone rushed for photo ops after every performance. Security had to add the red rope so people wouldn't trample us
Everyone rushed for photo ops after every performance. Security had to add the red rope so people wouldn’t trample us.
on days it rained, we performed on this amazing indoor stage
On days it rained, we performed on this amazing indoor stage
Tigers
The tigers in the atrium where we dined.
petting the giraffe at the zoo
Petting the giraffe at the zoo
Mascots
The mascots in action with Ceanna and I
Lisa, Najla and myself braving the roller coaster
Lisa, Najla and myself braving the roller coaster
end of the day...phew!relaxing back at the hotel on route to the pool with our favorite drink...coconut
End of the day…phew!               Relaxing back at the hotel on route to the pool with our favorite drink…coconut juice
our float for the Chinese Independence Celebration parade (daily for almost two weeks)
Our float for the Chinese Independence Celebration parade (daily for almost two weeks)
posing with some of the other float participants
Posing with some of the other float participants
Bella and I getting into position. Yes, that's a tentacle holding a lipstick!
Bella and I getting into position. Yes, that’s a tentacle holding a lipstick!
the float in action
The float in action
Ceanna and I with our new tiger hats (which we rocked for Halloween)
Ceanna and I with our new tiger hats (which we rocked for Halloween)
Fleurs d'Egypte (www.arabicbeat.com)
Fleurs d’Egypte (www.arabicbeat.com)

 

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MaryEllen Donald