I saw Terracotta Warriors again on Tuesday May 25, at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.
It stands up very well to repeated viewing. And I was looking at it
with a much more critical eye concerning all the recent controversy.
All the things that amazed me the first time around, still worked their
“Wow” factor, despite my knowing what was coming. I could pay more
attention to observing the details such as the enuch character’s highly
stylized dance and movements.
A friend recently asked me some questions about the production using
the promotional hype of the ads. Here are my answers to share with you:
Q: Were you dazzled by the lavishness and scope BEYOND a traditional Broadway show (paragraph 2)
A: The costumes are incredible… There is a lot of “Wow” factor –
due to the exoticness of the Chinese theme unfamiliar to the Western
experience. They are not exact replicas – but more of a “let's take
this to the next level…” It depends on what broadway shows you mean?
Bullets over Broadway or the Lion King. I would Love to see Lion King!
I loved Cats – despite the use of the word “Chinks” and that all
the Siamese Cats looked exactly the same – I mean you couldn't tell one
of these “heathen chinese” apart from the other!
The set: the paintings are beautiful. It's almost like imagining you
are at the Forbidden City or on the Great Wall. They have a very 3-D
like quality with very life like perspective. There are two
Terracotta Warriors props which are HUGE! They reach from floor to
ceiling and all you can see of 2 replicas are 3/4 of them. It allows
the imagination to visualize the rest reaching 10 stories high.
Q: Were you immersed in the emotion, the drama, and the battles of the second century B.C. (paragraph 3)
A: There is an incredible scene where one of the young lovers… is
dancing with the corpse of her dead lover. Beautifully choreographed
pas de deux. I thought it was an amazing idea. Rather than just boo-hoo
over him and dance around him, she pulls him up to dance with him,
pulling his corpse with her, and rolling along the ground with himI
couldn't recall seeing this theme ever before. She also incorporates
the Chinese dance technique with long sleeves – using them like ribbons.
Another pas de deux – very risque is the seduction scene, the
Emperor's Mother with her lover – actually performing many positions of
the “Tao of Love” – The audience must be thinking “Can they show this?
Is this alright for children to see?” These two dances for me were as
interesting as the battle scenes. Seeing the martial artists performing
with 3 staff rods, whips, swords and spears was definitely another WOW!
Having some knowledge of martial arts in knowing that a body can lean
against the spear point and survive is not known by everybody – some
Westerners must be thinking… it's rubber.
Q: Was it a musical and action thrill-ride (paragraph > 4)
A: Most definitely… There is constant music and movement. Even
between set changes, watching live musicians beside the stage in front
of the procenium arch is very exciting.
Q: Did you/do you remember the final sequence of the “Dance of the Terracotta Warriors” (last line)
The soldiers come out of the fog – there is a painted back drop and
it looks like hundreds behind them. They are marching and dancing –
just enough out of “military precision” to give the effect that each
soldier is a unique individual. But then I knew that each real
terracotta warrior is supposed to be uniquely crafted. It was not the
desire to make each warrior exactly the same. Even their costumes are
all slightly different. It's a pretty cool scene.
Q: I mean, I think you were entertained… (first page, > under the tag line)
Definitely entertained. I would definitely go see it again – if my
budget allowed me too. But I would have to choose between going to see
Cirque at a higher price. If I had the money – I would go see Cirque.
If I only had half the money, TCW is a good value for the dollar
Cheapest seats are $45 for a matinee and you can get 20% off from
various deals around town – like on my website.
Q: Hyperbolae aside, I do think that critics are allowed to
respond in some way to the claims made by advertising… and if the
show doesn't match up to its claims (cross-cultural misunderstandings
not withstanding tee hee)… well, they're allowed to say so…
A: Oh most definitely – and if they feel that they are getting
deceived – for sure. But if they are not understanding the production –
they also have to ask themselves why? And admit if they don’t
understand it, rather than say it is a flop as Alexandra Gill did. I
think it is important to note that none of the media has actually sent
a reviewer who is Asian or has knowledge of Asian culture. It would be
very interesting to read a review by Mr. Goh of Goh Ballet Academy or
Dr. Jan Walls, director of SFU International Communications and former
cultural attache to Canadian Embassy in Beijing , or Max Wyman, the
internationally renowned Vancouver dance critic.
Q: And just WHAT is an action-musical(tm)?!
A: Dr. Dennis Law invented the term. He wanted to blend in elements
of an Action-movie with the emphasis on music and singing. I think it
is more of an action – dance – with songs… but it is very different
than what is found on Broadway. imagine the fight scenes on West Side
Story… make everybody dance and have only an intermittent narrator
sing. What do you call it? An Martial Arts-Action-Ballet?