Paris: The Expected and Unexpected
Hotel. Bus. Theater. Bus. Hotel. Bus. Next Hotel.
That's basically what the world looks like when performance schedules are jam-packed. Fortunately, this year's Europe tour was refreshingly not too crammed, and I treasured every opportunity to venture beyond the stage door.
My favorite stop was Paris, the city of love and lights. During our brief stay, we shopped—err, window shopped—at Avenue des Champs-Elysées and Galeries Lafayette. And we posed for pictures in front of iconic landmarks, such as the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, Palais Opera and, of course, the Eiffel Tower.
Our company manager also arranged a trip to the Louvre—as artists, it would be a shame not to go. We had an afternoon to peruse through various exhibits of antiques, sculptures, and paintings portraying aspects of European life.
The masterpieces I enjoyed most were those depicting heroes from the past and the gods that aided them. Despite the differences in culture and artistic mediums, I could feel a connection between these artists and myself. They were presenting on canvas what we are trying to show onstage: great moments in history and veneration for the divine.
Visiting the Louvre was nourishing for the soul, but exhausting for the body. After shuffling around in heels for nearly three hours, my feet begged for mercy as we searched for a shortcut to the parking lot. Next time, remind me to wear sneakers.
The highlight of my sightseeing adventure was a boat tour down the Seine. As we drifted on the river, I couldn't help noticing the hordes of people standing on the bridges, staring back at us. I remember seeing a woman—I smiled, and she smiled back. There was a little boy—I waved, and he started flailing his arms. After conducting several such experiments, I came to the scientific conclusion that if you wave to someone, he or she will likely wave back.
I believe that smiles are contagious, and so I started disseminating my doctrine of cheerfulness amongst my friends. It wasn't long before we had a whole clan of girls waving to people onshore. Our ultimate goal was to “spread happiness around the world,” an obligation that also must be fulfilled by Shen Yun members. With our high spirits, we attracted the attentions of cyclists and businessmen, grandparents and grandkids and tourists. If only we had a Shen Yun poster, or a banner of some sort...
My musings were suddenly interrupted by someone hollering: “Look! It’s Seongho!” (Seongho Cha is one of our principal dancers who plays the Monkey King this season.) Curious as to what he was up to, I turned around and scanned the deck, searching for him. But I couldn't find him, and strangely, no one else was looking for him. They were all pointing somewhere else: to a boat across the river, and at the head of the boat was...
...a statue of the Monkey King!
“Seongho” may be an oddball on the French landscape, but for me, seeing him was like meeting an old friend. I guess there are pieces of China everywhere.
May 5, 2012