Monthly Archives: May 2004

East Meets West and has too much fun: Rick Scott and Harry Wong at Vancouver Children's Festival

East meets West with respect, humour and groove!

Award-winning Canadian entertainer Rick Scott and
celebrated Hong Kong magician/musician Harry Wong team up for a lively
concert filled withmusic,. magic and merriment.

Harry Goh Goh and his unlikely Guardian Angel
(Rick)learn to juggle life’s 5 essential elements (earth, metal, water,
wood and fire)in English and Cantonese.

Jester meets trickster in this magical musical that
promotes harmony and understanding between cultures through songs,
humour and visual illusions.

Learning about the 5 Elements has never been so much fun!

Rick Scott and Harry Wong‘THE 5 ELEMENTS’

  • East meets West with respect, humour and groove
    • An
      international collaboration between two acclaimed family entertainers
      from Canada and Hong Kong that promotes understandingand harmony
      between races and cultures
    • Premiered
      to 5000 people at Hong Kong’s international Arts Carnival in July 2003
      and will tour Canadian children’s festivals in May/June 2004, with 35
      shows in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Calgary, St. Albert & London
    • Harry Wong is seen each week on Sunday on Fairchild TV on the show BEANSLAND (in the M.I. Kids time slot)
    • THE
      5 ELEMENTS CD, nominated for a Canadian Independent Music Award
      (Favourite Children’s Artist), features 13 songs with a lively blend of
      English and Cantonese lyrics
    • Each song represents one of the 5 essential elements of life—

earth, metal, water, wood and fire

    • Music
      ranges from classical to folk and R&B, including a Bach partita and
      a traditional Chinese folk melody with cheeky English lyrics performed
      in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan
    • The CD features Vancouver’s foremost musicians as well as celebrated Japanese violinist Ayako Ichimaru
    • Supported by the Canada Council For The Arts and the Government of Canada – FACTOR.

For further information contact Valley Hennell


Website Links

Rick Scott and Harry Wong – ‘THE 5 ELEMENTS’


May 12-15     NANAIMO, BC 3 shows +

Van Island Intl Children’s Festival workshops

School show tix: 250-754-3378

Weekend tickets: 250-754-8550

May 16         VICTORIA, BC

McPherson Playhouse 1 show

Kaleidoscope Theatre presents

Tickets 250-386-6121

May 17-24 VANCOUVER. BC 6 shows +

Vancouver Intl Children’s Festival workshops

School tickets: 604-684-6008

Public tickets on sale March 27

Ticketmaster 604-280-4444

May 27-29 CALGARY, ALBERTA 3 shows

Calgary Intl Children’s Festival

Tickets: 403-299-8888

June 1-5        ST ALBERT, ALBERTA 8 shows +

Northern Alta Children’s Festival workshops

Festival Box Office 780-459-1542

Ticketmaster 780-451-8000

June 9-13    LONDON, ONTARIO 9 shows

London Children's Festival plus show

Tickets 519-645-6739 w/ Choir



Rick Scott and Harry Wong





The new CD is a great tool to help children begin to think about other
cultures…. a way to help children bridge differences in culture and
connect through the language of the heart.

Wong and Scott sing about differences and similarities in their ideas about schools, food, family and friends.

zany, thought-provoking and hummably tuneful, these songs illustrate
the affectionate and complementary spirit that is the foundation of
Scott and Wong's relationship.

If globalization can be about this kind of collaboration, communication, mutual respect, creativity and fun, then we're all forit. “

Victoria Times Colonist


The 5 Elements is a one-of-a-kind recording. East meets West as Wong's
astounding recorder melodies enrich the Western vibe of Scott's

is difficult to put into words how deep and fanciful this CD is. But I
can say the interplay between the creative talents of Rick Scott and
Harry Wong is nothing less than magical. ”

Chicago Parent Magazine




is a veteran Canadian singer, songwriter and family entertainer. His
many kudos include a Juno nomination, a West Coast Music Award., a
Children’s Music Web Special Judges’ Award and two Parents' Choice
Awards. He is a master of the Appalachian dulcimer which he plays in
his own unique style. He has performed his humorous original music for
all ages solo in nine countries, including over 1000 schools in which
his songs are used to augment curriculum. He is a spokesperson for the
Down Syndrome Research Foundation and gives inspirational keynotes
around the world. When not performing for children, Rick tours with Joe
Mock and Shari Ulrich in BC’s legendary folk trio Pied Pumkin.


is a highly esteemed Hong Kong musician, magician and educator. Known
in Asia as “Harry Goh Goh” or “Big Brother Harry”, he is famous for
combining his unique style of magic and music in TV programs and
performances. He is author of the MUSIC TODAY textbook series and a
manual for teaching recorder which are used extensively in Asian
schools. Harry studied recorder at the Royal School of Music in England
and is fluently vernacular in English and Cantonese. He is artistic
director of The Hong Kong Children’s Art Academy and a member of many
international magicians’ associations. Harry’s weekly Hong Kong TV
series, BEANSLAND, is currently shown in Canada on Sundays on Fairchild

Rick Scott and Harry Wong


East meets West with respect, humour and groove! THE
5 ELEMENTS is a collaboration between acclaimed B.C. musician RICK
SCOTT and esteemed Hong Kong musician/magician HARRY WONG. It’s a CD
and stage production based on Cantonese interpretations of Rick’s award
winning songs, performed in English and Cantonese.

The CD is nominated for a 2004 Canadian Independent Music Award for Favourite Children’s Artist.

5 ELEMENTS stage show premiered for 5000 people in July 2003 at
Hong Kong’s prestigious International Arts Carnival. It will tour
Canadian children's festivals in May and June 2004. 

5 ELEMENTS crosses boundaries of culture, tradition and musical styles
in an unprecedented bi-lingual celebration. Jester meets trickster as
Rick and Harry combine their respective classical, folk and blues
influences with lively wit and irrepressible humour. Each song
represents one of Oriental philosophy’s 5 essential elements of
life–earth, metal, water, wood and fire.

interprets rather than translates Rick’s songs, providing heartwarming
glimpses into Oriental family life and culture. Together they explore
ways of communicating and understanding their differences. They
set English words to a traditional Chinese folk song, recreate a Bach
partita, and celebrate their lives, homelands and families. Lyrics are
in English and Cantonese; and the CD sometimes includes an English
translation of the Cantonese interpretation. 

5 ELEMENTS CD, produced by Valley Hennell and engineered by Allan
Rodger, features some of Vancouver’s foremost musicians: Doug Edwards
(bass and guitar), Qui Xia He (pipa), Tom Keenlyside (saxophone), Jim
McGillveray (percussion), Allan Rodger (bass and drums) and the late
great Robbie King on piano. Also featured is celebrated Japanese
violinist Ayako Ichimaru, international soloist and longtime
concertmaster of the Asian Youth Orchestra.  

Rick Scott and Harry Wong




“East meets West with respect, groove and humour.”

February 2003, master recorder player Harry Wong came to Canada to
study Appalachian dulcimer with Rick Scott. He had heard a cassette of
Rick’s children’s songs and wondered if they would translate into
Cantonese. The two musicians sat down to play together and something
magical happened. 

were inspired and intrigued by the blend of their very different styles
and approaches. Dulcimer and recorder proved tuneful companions,
enlivened by Harry’s vast assortment of Chinese woodwinds. Combining
their respective classical, folk and blues influences they discovered a
similar sense of not only music but humour.  

they cross boundaries of cultures, traditions and musical styles in an
unprecedented bi-lingual celebration. Harry interprets rather than
translates Rick’s songs, providing heart-warming glimpses into Oriental
family life. 

invited Rick to collaborate on a new show based on Cantonese
interpretations of his songs. They brainstormed with award winning
lyricist/producer Valley Hennell and within a week had mapped out THE 5

RICK SCOTT – Artist Statement – ‘THE 5 ELEMENTS’


I am the jester

the fool who loves to sing

and pluck the string.


Harry is the trickster

magical master of the simple reed

and amazing instruments of breath.



I believe we create

and communicate


very wonderful



that will demonstrate

and radiate




and possibility



two very different men




HARRRY WONG – Artist Statement – ‘THE 5 ELEMENTS’


For a very long time I had been searching

for the theme of my next show.

Just as I thought I was being too idealistic it came to me:

the eternal and ancient Chinese theory

of balance within the five elements.


Our ancestors have understood and applied this theory

to everyday life for many thousand of years.

Studying ways of balancing the 5 elements

opened new doors in my creative thinking

and in this show I share this experience

through music and magic.


The show was originally to be a musical performance

involving 5 musicians from around the world

until I met my angel, Rick Scott, in Vancouver.


Rick’s musical skill, dulcimer grooves, sense of humour

and innovative approach to songs for children

have had a strong influence on my work

since I first heard his ELECTRIC SNOWSHOE cassette

12 years ago.


For me, THE 5 ELEMENTS is a dream come true because

I am working with one of the best

children’s entertainers in the world!



Looking for Chinese Canadian History resources

A colleague from Vancouver Public Library has asked me to help pass on some resources for his teacher brother who is teaching a segment on Chinese Canadian history for his Walnut Grove class.  How fitting that he does this during Asian Heritage Month in May!

The following is what I have recommended:

Information on Chinese Canadian History.

There is a VPL hand out on CC history – located next to QIS on the backside of the Bus schedules. 

May is Asian History Month.  Contact Asian History Month
Vancouver office at 604-488-0119 and check their website 

Check out the Asian Heritage Month Program available at local libraries.  Lots of events going on from UBC to Fraser Valley.

Purchase a copy of their Asian History of North America – a time line of Asian History in Canada, US, Hawaii and Mexico – contains Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiians, South Asians etc.

Contact Asian Research Centre at UBC.
There is a Virtual Museum of linked websites concerning Chinese History in BC and Canada.

Read Saltwater City by Paul Yee – a pictorial encyclopedic history of Vancouver's Chinatown.

Contact Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Classical Gardens for a field trip of the Gardends and a tour of Chinatown.  John Atkins does a wonderful tour – ask for his contact.  I helped set up “Jade Peony Walking Tours” with the Gardens for Vancouver Public Library's One Book One Vancouver program.

Read “Jade Peony” a novel based on true events in Vancouver's Chinatown.  Winner of Trillium book Prize and inaugural choice for One Book One Vancouver Program for Vancouver Public Library.  A set of discussion questions is available.

Secondary school eh?
Read Tong Louie – a biography of the founder of London Drugs, and son of HY Louie – the busness wholesaler.

– check out listings of films
Knowledge Network should be doing a series of Asian Canadian programing for MAY.

Find a copy of the CBC tv special “Salt Water City” based on the 1986 Museum display that spawned the book by Paul Yee.  Paul was just in town last weekend doing readings at VPL and Richmond

Check out my own website: – dedicated to multicultural events including the gung haggis dragon boat team.

Great Practice on Sunday May 16 – review

Hi everybody,

We had a great practice on Sunday. We had a good group arriving by 12 noon + some stragglers. We met with Odette Brassard, the researcher for France Trois – the Knowledge Network type station in Paris who will be shooting the a segment on dragon boats at the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in June.

Our team will be featured because of the multicultural emphasis we have both on training and our team make up. Communications Coordinator for ADBF, Anita Webster, recommended me as a film subject because of my many multicultural activities and especially because Gung Haggis Fat Choy is becoming very well known for its emphasis on Chinese and Scottish cultures. Odette give us some background on the filming needs and will provide more as the weeks progress. Sunday was the first face to face meeting with myself and the team for her.

We also got to try out one of the brand new “Gemini” Boats, made in Poland. These are vying to be the new standard for International Dragon Boat Federation Races. Up to now, IDBF has been using BUK boats made in Germany. Both boats are more tippy or responsive to weight changes – very much like a teak boat. They are shorter and have have less leg room than 6-16 or Millenium boats. And they are very light compared to 6-16's.


Every Sunday we will treat as if it is race day. We will meet early, do a cardio warm-up, do a race visualization. Then paddle out for our warm-up, then do a 500 metre race piece. This Sunday, we explained what we will be doing over the next few practices, as we get ready for our June 6th regatta, and our June 19/20 festival races.

Our race pieces started with 100% starts, dropped down to 60%, then alternated with 3 100% series pieces, before a 100% finish piece. We did some endurance and technique work, then finished with another race piece on the course. People found that the last race piece was much better than the first one, even though they were more tired at the end of the practice. The challenge is we don't get an hour on the water before each race – often it is get to the starting line and go!

The reasons we did better on the second piece were:

  • We were better warmed up
  • We knew what to expect
  • Our technique was better
  • We were better prepared

The challenge is to take all the above and to put it into your first race piece, often 5 to 10 minutes after you leave the dock. Each practice from now on, we will start with a race piece to build our preparation -then work on how to improve it for our next race piece of the practice.

Wednesday Practice:

Expect to use the boat with all the seaweed and barnacles – unless we are ready to go ASAP! If everybody is there at 6pm, then we can be on the water by 6:05 and beat the other teams to the boats.

If you cannot be there by 6:00 – let met know!!!

We will either wait for you and let the other teams take the good boats, or we will get on the boat and come back for you.

Cheers, Todd

Suzi Cloutier goes to South Africa for Word Club Crew Dragon Boat Championships with Wasabi

I wanted to share this
amazing e-mail from my friend Suzi Cloutier. Suzi paddles with Wasabi
Women Team Huge in Portland Oregon – who have been the US National
Women's Dragon Boat team for 2001 and 2003. Suzi was also a former
sprint kayak racer with the US National team.

Check out the following website for a short profile on Suzi as a sponsored amateur athelete by Balance Bars.

Cheers, Todd


Everything was so amazing
that I am feeling that this was just one big dream. The journey was a
long one with two flights of 10 hours each, a 12-hour lay over in
Frankfurt Germany, and another in Johannesburg. All of this toting my
luggage plus several 40 lb. bags of medical supplies, toys and books
for my humanitarian work after the races.

We stayed the first week in an old
converted jail in Capetown, ate great food, enjoyed a lavish reception
at the US Consulates house and some of the most challenging race
conditions we have ever seen. Big choppy waves, high winds, strong
currents, rain and thunderstorms- ahhh, just like training in Portland
except for the fact that there were cape fur seals swimming alongside
our boats and a huge variety of beautiful Jellyfish swimming under
them. We did very well, winning all but 2 of our heats. The competition
was tough but we were tougher. There is nothing sweeter than standing
on the podium, gold medal around your neck and hearing your country's
national anthem playing. Very nice.

After the races we were off to the
Western Cape to stay at a lodge on the Breede River. It was set in an
area called 'bushveld' in Afrikaans- a high desert type area with giant
aloe plants and where every other shrub sports huge thorns. We ran the
Breede river in rubber kayaks- and the guide and I proceeded to surf
every wave possible- with the team looking on in awed amazement (ok,
maybe more like- what ARE you doing?) I managed to trash myself nicely
in a hole and sacrifice my sunglasses and watch to the river gods (now
I remember why I stopped running whitewater- too expensive!).

While my team traveled on to Hemanus
Beach for more R and R, I caught a ride back to a large Township called
Kailishta which houses more than 1 million of the areas poorest Black
families- a sad reality still left over of the Apartheid era where
blacks and coloreds were considered only 'partially human' and were
issued “dumbpasses” in order to work in the cities. They were not
allowed to live there amongst the whites however and were beaten and
jailed if caught outside their Shantytowns after 6pm.

Apartheid mercifully ended 10 years ago
with the election of former political prisoner, Nelson Mandela into the
presidency yet the suffering of the black population is still
devastating. I stayed with a wonderful woman named Vicky, her husband
and 4 children in their pieced together metal and wooden handmade

Although I was the only white person in
the entire township, I could not have been treated more kindly. The
township kids and I played soccer in the dirt street with an improvised
ball made out of a garbage stuffed bag. We sat on the front step and
sang Brittany Spears songs and I taught them “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.
All the while the thin, sick and feral township dogs snuffed around for
scraps to eat. For the remainder of my days I went to 3 different
townships schools with my new friend at the Amy Beil Foundation and
read to the kids, did crafts projects, helped them with their English,
learned a little Xhosha (southern Africa native tongue) and distributed

The disparity between the wealthy and
ultra poor was a devastating reality and I hope to never forget the
people that struggle to live in such heartbreaking conditions. I was
there during the 10th election since the fall of apartheid- the African
National Congress won again and with the guidance of Mbecki, I can only
hope that the next 10 years brings them leaps and bounds forward into
full equality with the whites.

In between I was able to visit the
beautiful Table Mountain which looms over the City where I saw rock
Hyraxes (the closest relative to the elephant- even though they weigh
only about 5 lbs.), numerous AWSOME lizards and some great birds. I
also went to Cape Point, which is the most southerly part of Africa. It
was there that I sat on the beach only to look up and see 8 huge
ostriches browsing on dune grass- very surreal. I was able to see
Elands and Springbok (2 different types of native antelope) and had
close encounters with the INSANE Baboons at the parking lot of the Cape
of Good Hope.

People have been feeding these guys for
so long that they now resort to intimidation tactics when you are
outside of your car and have food in your hand. The baboons will
actually charge up to you with teeth bared and grab your grub (that is
if you don't throw it at them first!) There is a whole crew of
employees walking around with sticks to keep them away from people…If
you all forgive the wildlife biologist soapbox: This is why I say to
NEVER feed wildlife- it just gets everyone hurt. Ok, nuff said. The
birding was outrageous and I couldn't believe all of the cool species
of cranes and birds of prey that I saw.

With all of the great people that I have
met and places that I have visited, and life changing experiences, it
sure is good to be back home with Matt and the critters and to
understand just how blessed that I have been to have been able to
experience such wonder.

Again, thank you all for everything that you have done. I held a piece of you all there with me.



There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to
find the ways in which you yourself have altered. ~Nelson Mandela

Lotus Dragon Boat Regatta May 15th, Barnet Marine Park Bby BC

The Lotus dragon boat Regatta, held at Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby BC, gave people plenty of reasons to smile on Saturday, May 15, despite the tragic car accident death of long time Lotus club Member Bill Allie, earlier in the week.

Bill was a member of the club from the beginning back in 1986, and according to Lotus Club member Jim McArthur, Bill was always working behind the scenes to make things work.  Following the eye-dotting ceremony to awaken the dragons, a moment of silence was held for Bill.

The Lotus Regatta is a very friendly race.  It is designed for people to have fun and is very paddler and people friendly.  At the registration tent are bananas and orange slices set up for passers by, along with an 8liter container of Gatorade.  All the organizers are smiling and saying hello to everybody. 

Race Director John Park doesn't blast out his messages over a bull horn or speaker system – instead he personally goes and talks to each and every team.  There is a table set up with lots of door and raffle prizes, to ensure that lots of paddlers walk away with prizes.  There are no medals at this race – but instead there are glass trophies for Women's, Senior's and Open Division winners.

18 teams attended the Lotus Regatta.  I paddled with Spirit of Vancouver, organized and managed by Richard Mah.  It had been about 5 years since I raced with Richard on a Spirit team in San Francisco in 1999.  Still on the team was Richard's girlfriend Karen, now his wife as of last year.  Also on the team is Ken Fung, who joined up in 2002.  I was one of Ken's first coaches when I coached/drummed for Nokia Dragons in 2000 at the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival. 

Spirit of Vancouver is a very friendly team, and was very welcoming to myself and other paddlers including Jane Leung who paddled with Gung Haggis last year, and has started her own team for 2004 – Ready JET Go! for Japanese English Training alumni – all people who have taught English in Japan – which is where Jane first learned to paddle dragon boats until returning to Vancouver last year.

Our first race was delayed due to the slow beginning of the regatta due to an equipment malfunction.  One of the boats took a longer time to get unloaded from the trailer and get into the water.  No worry – this allowed more time for paddlers to show up for their teams (no doubt newcomers were getting lost or slept in).  Teams were also able to borrow paddlers from other teams.  This is a tradition at Lotus races – I have never ever seen a team confronted for “stacking” their team so they could win.  It is all for fun, and paddlers are happy to race for each other and get to know other teams.

For our first two races, we borrowed paddlers from Lotus Jr and Women On Water (WOW), plus a guy from Dogwood Nothin'.  Then I got asked to paddle with the Lotus Jr team.  This was a great honour because their coach Grace Morrisette was my first coach back in 1993, when I first joined the Headliner's team and we won 1st place for the first ever Novice Division cup at the Alcan Dragon boat festival.  Grace has always been a role model for me, and it has been great getting to know the many Jr paddlers she has coached as organizer of the Lotus Jr program.  It was also great to paddle with Elton and Laurin, whom I met when I set up NCCP courses for dragon boaters 3 years ago.

Okay… so Spirit won its first race by a good distance as we paddled in a seeding race, we blew the second race by getting too wound up and paddling too fast.  The third race we came 2nd or 3rd in a close pack.  And in our 4th race – the Open Mixed Finals – we held our own, then slowly lost ground to finish 4th.   We all felt like we had put in our best efforts and had corrected the mistakes in our second race – There was nothing else we could have done.  M-Power won the Open Mixed, Grandragons came 2nd and Nothin' Dragons came 3rd.  Abreast in Barnet came 1st in the Women's division and M-Power also won Top overall.

I can't believe I paddled in 5 races.  3 on my right side and 2 on my left side.  This is a very good case for training paddlers to paddle on both sides.  I don't think my body would have held out if I did all the races on one side.  Basically I just relied on technique, as I have hardly been paddling because I spend almost all of my boat time on coaching.

When the awards were handed out Race Director John Park announced that Lotus would be renaming the race the Bill Allie race.  Everybody clapped appreciatively.   The raffle draw raised almost $500 that would be given to the Allie family.  It featured a pass for two to go see the Terracotta Warriors show in Vancouver. 

The final prize was a draw amongst all the teams participating to win a free registration to enter the Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race on Sep 4/5.  They crowd clapped when I announced it is worth $600 to $700 and each team member also recieves 20 tickets for the Taiwanese Cultural Festival to bring family and friends or to sell to them.  Eric Hamber Jr's won the regisration and was very excited.  Afterwards fellow DBA vice president Bob Brinson and I explained to the Eric Hamber team how the race worked and I taught a few paddlers how to climb on to the dragon head to become a flag puller.

Lotus will reciprocate this gesture and offer a free 2005 Lotus Regatta registration as one of the prizes at the Sep 4/5 Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race.  It is part of my efforts for smaller festivals to help support and promote each other.

I am pleased that the boat registration and the Terracotta Warriors prizes went over so well.  It is part of my personal effort to help support the Lotus Sports Club, and to help them through a very tough race.

Lotus Regatta Saturday – Sunday practice + more events

Hi Everybody,
This Saturday is a dragon boat regatta at Barnet Marine Park – lots of fun.  It is organized by Lotus Sports Club.  Although the “team” isn't ready to race yet – lots of fun to come out and “experience” a 20 team regatta – lots of opportunities to help volunteer with the organizers as I will be doing.  We will come out to Lotus after the Alcan race in June to try outrigger paddling.  Race is located at Barnet Marine Park – off Barnet Hwy – just east of Kask Brothers Cement, after Hastings St turns into Barnet Hwy. This event is free.
Saturday night ExplorASIAN Extravaganza
9pm at the WISE Hall 1882 Adanac St. $15
Copntemporary Asian Canadian musical performers including Ula Shine, our Korean singer/songwriter who paddled with us last year.
Sunday, practice is 12 noon at Dragon Zone.  This is the green trailer beside the Aqua bus dock.  It is immediately south of Science World.  We are having 3 practices here on Sundays now.  We are using these days as our race preparation days to rehearse what will happen on race day.  On June 6th we are entered in a regatta here.  Expect about 8 teams unloading and 8 teams loading – lots of confusion.
Sunday 7pm.  Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop reading.
Come listen to emerging writers, including our erstwhile paddler/flag grabber from last season Adrienne Wong.  Our Town Cafe at 96 Kingsway @ Broadway.  This event is free.

Terracotta Warriors: an exciting spectacle at the Centre in Vancouver

Tuesday was my birthday… and I went to see Terracotta Warriors at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on Homer St. 
What an awesome spectacular spectacle.  There is almost constant
motion and music to this incredible production of dance, martial arts,
gymnastics and song.  It was much more exciting than seeing the Vancouver Opera production of Madame Butterfly, four years ago on my birthday.

girlfriend and I didn’t quite get there early enough to read through
the program and the synopsis, which is what we like to do for
non-English opera productions.  We were
excited to see this second action-musical, written, directed and
produced by Dr. Dennis Law, which combines Chinese dance with
gymnastics, song and martial arts.  While
there are no surtitles to decipher the show and the only words are
from the songs sung in Mandarin, the show is completely
understandable.  It is like watching opera sung in Italian, German
or French – none of which I understand.  It is like watching
ballet, distinct and interpretive movement tells the story through the
choreography and the body language of the dancers.


show opens as the theatre darkens and a lone figure dressed in
stylistic ancient Chinese garb appears near the elaborate Chinese drum
and percussion set off the right side of the stage.  Offstage
musicians are common in Chinese productions, and I had last seen it
used to brilliant effect in the theatre production “Mom, Dad, I'm
Living with a White Girl” written by Marty Wong.

large gong is struck, and the drummer plays the largest dragon boat
type drum I have ever seen.  He also moves to the Chinese bells
behind him.  Moving very distinct and theatrical-like, at this
moment – he is the show, and he knows it.  This is very different
from the musicians in a Western style orchestra pit – where musicians
are better heard and not seen.

fog rolls out from the stage, as if a large mist had filled a
cave.  Indeed it is a cave as four peasants explore and are caught
in an earthquake.  Rocks fall and large stone warriors are
revealed.  This dramatizes the discovery of the Terracotta Army in
the mid-70's.  Up to that point, very little was known about the
weaponry and costumes of the period governed by the First Emperor of
China.  The discovery of Emperor Qin's burial mounds was one of
the most significant archeological discoveries of the 20th Century.


of the following scenes then interpret the life of Qin Shihuang
(pronounced “Chin Shi Wong”) from the time when the Qin army defeats
the army of the state of Yi.  Qin is then coronated as first
emperor of China, the country that still bears his name over 2200 years
after his unified warring states into a single country, as well as
unifying currency, written language, weights and measures, roads and
irrigation systems. 

costumes and rich pageantry fill the stage.  The battle scenes are
excitingly choreographed, with dozens of fights happening
simultaneously.  The court scenes allow for dance scenes and
elaborate costumes of the emperor's beloved concubines as well as for
the acrobats and performers of the court.  We are then presented
with wonderful displays of jumping, sword work, giant yo-yo's and plate
twirling.  These are ancient practices that have filled many
Chinese dance and Chinese opera stages over the years.  But what
makes this production different is that not only are the costumes more
elaborate, but so are the sets, lighting and production values. 
Terracotta Warriors brings Chinese tradition dance and theatre
production into the 21st Century.


is incredibly ambitious to attempt to tell the story of Qin Shihuang in
a single story, so highlights such as the discovery of his mother with
a court advisor turned conspirator, Qin's eunuch advisor, Qin's quest
for immortality and his fear of death, as well as Qin's tirades of book
burning and burying scholars alive are demonstrated.

achievements are so vast, that the only Western leaders that can be
compared to him are Alexander the Great, Julius Cesar who each built
long lasting empires that eventually eroded, while Qin's legacy is the
longest continuous nation on earth.

In presenting the story of Qin, Dennis Law accomplishes what nobody else in North America
has ever done before.  He artistically puts Chinese art,
culture and history not only as equal with Western art, but as
historical and culturally significant.  For the greater part of
the last two hundred years, China and its culture has been regarded as inferior 3rd World quality by Western eyes. 

the show, Dr. Law said to my girlfriend, “You are not Chinese, did you
have any trouble understanding the story.”  Deb replied, “Oh not
at all… The actions very distinctly give you the story, and the
dancing is very broad.  Not a problem at all… and I didn't even
read the synopsis.”  Over dinner, I had given Deb a brief run
down of the life of Emperor Qin Shihuang, first emperor of China.  How he had unified China,
rising through the Period of Warring States, how he had many
concubines, and had burned books in an effort to control
knowledge, that he built both the Great Wall of China, and later the Terracotta Warriors for his burial tomb.

In Western society, the references to Asian culture are often stereotyped and have been historically racist.  Original productions of Madam Butterfly had the original libretto altered for politically correct reasons.  The
original production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical “Flower Drum
Song” was a pastiche of immigrant Asian clichés and was recently
re-written by renowned Chinese American playwright David Henry Hwang.  With
Terracotta Warriors, we are able to address a historical Chinese story
with the creation of an original work of art with Chinese artists
instead of a Western perspective that directs and writes how they think
the Chinese voice should act and sound.

In my own experience as I grew up in Canada during the 60's, 70's and 80's, I learned and experienced the second class-ness of being a visible minority in Canada. To
be Asian, was to be inferior, no wonder so many Asian Canadians
grew up with negative identity crises, especially after suffering
through discriminatory head tax, labour, education and
immigration restrictions, race riots,  internment camps,
property confiscation, relocation and deportation.

somehow, sitting in the Centre, with my mouth hanging open, watching in
awe of the acrobatic feats and the beautiful costumes and dancing – it
is more than okay to be Chinese.  It is affirming to know that I
come from a rich ancestry of culture, art, history and innovation. 

Wednesday practices start at 6pm now! Please be early!

Wednesday practices need to start at 6pm sharp. 

We have to be on the water ASAP. We must be off the boat until 7:30pm as there will be 3 teams lined up for practices after us – expect the dock to be very crowded at 7:30. Therefore we will have a shorter more intense practice – which works out good for our strength and endurance phase. If you can make the practice but must be late – please let me know and we can arrange to meet you along the seawall or at a specific dock as we picked up Tom Cornwall from the seawall last week.

Sunday's practice went very well – our races starts are looking mighty fine for the first day – but we only had 12 paddlers and one was a mother on Mother's Day!!! Way to go Gail!!!. If you are unable to make practice – please call or e-mail me. Please do not be late for practice and show up just before we go on the water. There are a lot of managerial and instructional things we need to share with you to ensure smooth and successful practices.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team to be featured in TV show

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team will be featured on French TV program – “France Trois.” A production team is coming to Vancouver to film the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival and I have been selected as one of the “personalities” to tell the story of dragon boats through my personal involvement in the dragon boat community and the team's emphasis on multiculturalism.

“France Trois” is described as sort of a Knowledge Network type of program that focuses on humans relationship with the sea… hence the dragon boat connection.  Another featured personality will be Vincent Lo – the creator of Six-Sixteen fibreglass dragon boats and former coach of the Worlds medal winning champions, the False Creek Women's Team – now coached by Andrea Dillon.

This is a great opportunity to share our love for dragon boating and our understanding of Canadian multiculturalism to the WORLD, as France Trois is broadcast all around the world. The researcher Odette Brassard will come out to our next Sunday's practice to meet the team and scout the location.

She was very pleased when I told her that so many of our paddlers were born outside of Canada, such as England, Scotland, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Russia, Poland, Puerto Rico.  She laughed when I told her we have a Chinese person born in Scotland – we also have a Caucasian Canadian who's mother was born in China!

Odette also loved the idea that this team goes every year to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden for a tour to learn about Chinese Philosophy and Tai Chi. She especially loved that the team has a Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner fundraiser in January that combines cultures and makes up our own unique Canadian fusion culture.  She says that it is something that France is struggling to learn about, and we discussed how Canada can set examples as role models especially in a post-colonial world.

Goals and Goal Setting

Goals and Goal Setting – Dr. David Cox (sport psychologist) (applied by Todd Wong)

Technical, tactical, physicial, mental are four parts of sports preparation.  Athletes must have realistic motivation.

It is the quality of the training not the quantity that is important. High quantity can create the illusion of good preparation. (eg. Practices that simply go through the motions of racing instead of replicating actual conditions of a race simulation such as possible problems and race tactics with other boats).


Ask yourself why you do this sport?

Do you want to win?

What makes you win? – Confidence and efficacy (ability)

Shift goals from outcome to process (outcome or results cannot be controlled – but process can be controlled (how you train or compete or handle challenges).

Outcome is subject to outside influences – eg other racers, the weather, what you ate for lunch.

Performance and actions are under YOUR control.  eg. how you handle challenges, your equipment, your attitude, your training, your diet.

Practice to Compete.  If all we do is practice race starts then we become very good at doing race starts in practice situations (eg. no body else to race with – no understanding of what happens when a race is called.) Therefore we must do our best to simulate every possible condition that might happen during a race start so we are best prepared, if that possibility happens.  We must also practice with other boats – some better, some not better.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy – Team and Personal Goals

My personal goal is to do my best to ensure a safe and fun time for everybody.  This is accomplished by good coaching, encouraging each paddler, helping them reach levels of satisfaction and accomplishment, and building the best team and management/coaching group that I can.

To do this I will: read my coaching books, recruit a full team, keep in touch with paddlers to monitor both individual needs and team needs.  I resolve to keep a positive and supportive attitude at all times.

– Todd Wong