Finally! Performance time. It has been a long 3 weeks preparing and rehearsing everyday, and with all the changes to the set it was starting to get too laborious. Alas!…the time came and I was ready to lead the team and show the area that their local Kung Fu students are full of energy, enthusiasm and spirit.
Monk bottoms, check! Long uncomfortable-on-the-calves socks, check! Academy black Tshirt, check! We were ready. As with any performance there is actually a lot of waiting around, so we all just made sure our uniforms were looking presentable, ensured that we didn’t eat to much, and that we had stretched enough. Then, after playing the waiting game, we could perform.
The Xinyi Half Year Show is a showcase celebration over a week (and a bit) of what talent resides in the local area. Breakdancers, singers, drummers, classical dancers, classical musicians…and us lot, the only Kung Fu squad in the area. The stage is set up outside of the ‘Ya Ou Da Jui Dian’ hotel and there are approximately 20 performances every night. Over the days I was there, it was good to see a lot of different clubs with the youngsters getting involved. The breakdancers kids reminded me of my old competitions and a world I was very much involved in during Uni. They weren’t bad either! Chinese kids are generally shy, so to see them looking confident and bustin’ out some clean footwork alongside some freezes was awesome. *Earbleed Alert* There was this little girl, no more than 6 years old, in a traditional Chinese dress who was singing. MY GOD, she was so high pitched I swear there was a line of dozing dogs outside that woke up! Bless her though. I know a bunch of people who would hate being on stage, so, fair play to the little banshee.
I mentioned before that we were originally going to perform over 3 days and do a couple parts of our set per night. We got there on our first day ready to perform our Group Fist and Group Tai Chi Fan forms. I wasn’t nervous at all. We had drilled these forms to death, and I have performed alot in general. Here I have performed as much as possible to get the experience, so I was glad it was calming me. We got up to do our group form and the crowd were vibrantly excited. Problem! Our group form is only like 30 seconds so as soon as the crowd was hyped, it was over! The group fan from later went well, apart from a little music mix up, and it was longer at 3 minutes(ish). Mentioned in a previous post that this is why Master Bao stopped the idea of performing over 3 days. Instead we would return a week later for 2 performances that were longer in duration.
So after changes we had 2 parts of our set ready; 1 – Group Continuous Fist, Tai Chi and Group Staff Form. 2 – Individual Forms and Group Fist Form. Grabbing our staffs we headed into the stage. Instantly I felt it was going to be a solid effort from the team. I shouted the commands as loud as I could to overwrite the aggressive Kung Fu soundtrack, and apparently the audience felt the energy. There were minor hiccups here and there like Morten snagging his staff on the backdrop, Thijs bowing in the wrong direction (c’mon Thijs…really?! Ha!)…but overall the energy was superb and the crowd gave a big cheer.
The second set felt really comfortable. I know my Broadsword form nearly as well as I know all the Marvel movies, so I really enjoy performing it now. Everybody else had good forms and Group form sounded damn powerful.
As an added performance (to close the show) the school I teach at asked if a few of us would learn a short song on the classic chinese instrument the Guzheng. We went a couple of weeks ago to learn a song (basically do ray me far so thingy) and then we had an hour on the day to go over it. The idea was after we play as a guest team the teachers take over and then we do some Kung Fu stuff to show collaboration between the styles.
How did this go? BLOODY TERRIBLE! Lol! When we played it was soooooo out of tune I think a deaf guy in the audience complained. It felt like we had destroyed a little bit of Chinese tradition with what we did. Just before plucking that final off-note, I looked and Steve, Steve looked back at me, both ready to burst out laughing (but using ALL our powers to hold it in) while thinking “oh my god, we have butchered this instrument!”. Thankfully the teachers playing and us free styling some Kung Fu movements looked great.
When I was getting frustrated with the rehearsals due to the changes and expectations on the team, I mentioned to Mona that I would be nice if there was some kind of reward for those who stuck with it for 3 weeks and didn’t drop out. There were a couple rewards (yay!). The currency of rewards here come in two forms; Kung Fu forms or food (Kung-Food?). The night after the performance Master Bao took everyone to the restaurant owned by his friend, which is just around the corner from us. I like eating there due to multiple delicious dishes and the noodles they make are so smooth it’s like they are made of Morgan Freeman’s voice!
As a reward to those who a actually performed, Master Bao has offered to teach us a form using the weapon the Bull Whip. Now, this wasn’t on my list if things to learn, but it is a bad-ass weapon. With us group of lads learning it I imagine we will look less like Indiana Jones and more like an uncoordinated ’50 Shades of Gray’ scene..but we are all looking forward to it.
That was the performance for the half year show. Successful! The headmaster is happy and therefore we are…now. Next on the agenda is training my Broadsword form ready for the competition, and with the school full of kids training and finally getting back into a routine, I think the next few weeks will be just as action packed as the last.