Winter Shows - Much Too Cool
Tour is a battle. Every year we overcome numerous setbacks, topple various obstacles, and brave the elements in order to present an immaculate performance.
The difficulties that tour entails are infinite. From arduous bus rides to slippery stage floors to no rehearsal space, trying circumstances appear intermittently during our course and vary with location. There's one element, however, that unceasingly accompanies us on our winter tour, trying to impede our every move—the cold.
Born and bred under the Australian sun (and the ozone hole, for that matter), my irreversibly tanned skin and warmth-adapted body are unaccustomed to the prickly chill of North America’s winter. Failure to adapt is evident in my wounded hands—cracked knuckles and redness and occasional bleeding. It’s reached the point that I contemplated applying makeup foundation on them in order to conceal their discolouration for fear that they would draw the audience’s attention during the show. I retreated from the idea after deciding that foundation-handprint stained costumes were more of a detriment than the prior threat.
Last year, I was ecstatic with being assigned the Asia tour—between tropical Taiwan and sunny Australia, I harbored high hopes of escaping America’s harsh winter. To my complete and utter dismay, Pacific weather let me down.
First we met a freezing Korea. Okay, fine. But then it was as if we dragged a massive cold front with us down to Sydney, a city that, prior to our arrival, had just experienced a collective heat stroke. Pre-autumn Melbourne was no better, and to top that off, we reached Taiwan just in time to experience its coldest March in a decade. I began wondering if the cold was accompanying us merely to mock my eagerness for a sun-break.
This year, my group has been touring North America and, in spite of the relatively mild winter, cold has accompanied us throughout. Our first performance was in Ottawa, our next show will be in upstate New York’s Rochester, and we soon get to go to Europe and cities like Stockholm.
Cold means hazardous road conditions during our long bus rides. Cold means engines freezing up. Cold means practicing in down coats at theatres with inadequate heating. Cold means stuffing our suitcases with heat-insulating clothes, leaving little souvenir space. Cold causes runny noses… Australians don’t like cold.
But, we do our best to prevent it from hindering our efforts to make the performances a success. We endure. We wear gloves and overcoats and hats and scarves when we unload the prop truck. We give it our all on stage no matter how bad our bodies feel or how much our noses run. We don’t mind lugging around extra suitcases—as long as we can perform, we’re happy and well.
One of our dances this year is called Snowflakes Welcoming Spring. It artistically depicts a snowy winter scene with white handkerchiefs. The dance ends with a signal of the arrival of spring and a glimmer of hope, which I find strangely analogous—renewal arising from harsh circumstances.
Europe tour: Bring it on—I’m bringing gloves.
An Aussie dancing with Shen Yun's International Company
February 24, 2012