12-12-00 I am Nefe

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Gilded serpent presents...
Troupe Tabu goes to China!
by Nanna

Troupe Tabu was recently invited to dance in the Beijing International Cultural Dance Festival 2000. The event took place at the end of September. I am Tabu's troupe director, Nanna Candelaria, and here is the story:

It began back in June 2000 when we had the honor of dancing in this year's Ethnic Dance Festival. It should be noted that somewhere between passing the audition and performing, it was announced that three out of four dancers in the group (not including myself) were pregnant.

It seemed the festival came about a week short of costumes no longer fitting our three mothers-to-be. It all went very smoothly though, thanks to hours and hours of practice. We were happy to work with musicians Mimi Spencer, Mary Ellen Donald and Terry Holgate. As usual, their accompaniment was clear, reliable and backed with energy.


When the festival ended it was time to consider recruiting more troupe members. Though two out of the three pregnant troupees are determined to dance both pre- and post-birth, I realized there would be a rather large void in the troupe for an undetermined period of time. Four of my students were invited to join, and all seemed happy to accept. We soon had our first official meeting and rehearsal.

It was on the day of our second rehearsal together that I received a call from David Pang. He is a Chinese radio broadcaster and manager for a group of Chinese dragon dancers who performed with us on the same weekend of the Ethnic Dance Festival. He was calling to invite my troupe to dance in China!

I discovered that I would be dealing with Mr. Zhi Wei Huang, the organizer of the Beijing International Cultural Festival. Apparently I'm a hard person to find, because it took them about a week to obtain my telephone number. By the time they did find me, it was so urgent that I met with Mr. Huang that day.

It became clear my troupe members and I needed to make a decision almost immediately. Conveniently enough, it was a rehearsal night, and I sat twitching in my chair waiting for everyone to arrive so I could make the announcement to all. After doing so, there were no outbursts or expressions of extreme excitement. Instead, there was more of a stunned silence. This sentiment pervaded the evening when we all met Mr. Huang. He spent the evening showing us brochures, photos, documents and proof that we were not going to be kidnapped and shipped off to a foreign slave market.

A tone of extreme urgency was now set for the troupe. We began the process of getting visas, passports, vaccines, learning choreographs and making four new costumes. We extended our rehearsals in both days and hours, and the sewing sessions were long and grueling.

We had an exciting itinerary to look forward to. First, we were to do a theater performance for up to 2500 people. Our audience would include diplomats, the media, and Beijing residents. We would be presented along with several other cultural dance groups from around the world.

We were also scheduled to perform in the countryside and take part in a parade. We planned to stay for eleven days and have the opportunity to tour the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and see other sights on our own time.

Before the festival, I hadn't mentioned to Mr. Huang that not all of us were the original group of dancers. Sadly, the three pregnant troupe members were not allowed to fly. The new girls are fast learners though; and, like it or not, they worked hard to make sure the performance was a success.

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I am Neferteri by Ann Lucas
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