The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

Shanghai Day 8 - 17th Sep 2012

After a more than well-deserved sleep in… surprise surprise we were taken out for another traditional Chinese cuisine lunch. We were treated to a little Chinese dancing from some locals while we ate which included some girls with umbrellas and a questionable male, feminine belly dancer. We then sampled some fruit from a local street vendor, including juicy mangos the size of watermelons, yum! After heading back to the hotel we had a few greatly needed hours of down time before getting ready to head back to the school where we were to assemble for the parade. Whilst eagerly awaiting the final score of the All Blacks vs. South Africa game from back home, we were supplied with ‘simple food’-our dinner from the organisers which consisted of. . . Bread and water!
Our waiting time sitting on the streets of Shanghai was much shorter than last night much to our relief! We squirrelled the hotel hand towels and slippers to protect both our pumps and kilts from the concrete runway until our turn. Fireworks lit the sky and the parade was off! The atmosphere at the parade was incredible. We were up after the Italian comic band which consisted of various hand-made instruments including a toilet strapped onto one guy’s back who opened and closed the seat lid to set the beat and an old fashioned oven where the metal doors were banged. Beautifully lit floats and crowds of people surrounded us, cheering us on. Two Chinese girls held a banner with our team name and our music was played by a mascot on wheels. We stopped approximately every 100 metres and did reeling and swinging on the 2.2km journey as well as four big stops where we performed the last section of ‘the thistle and the fern’. Following us were some traditional Slovakians who were singers, dancers and musicians. As soon as we began dancing the crowds went wild which made it very easy to ‘decorate our faces with smiles’. Despite fatigue, heat and previous late nights and early starts, our performances were fantastic and we all were all buzzing. At the end of the parade our bus awaited us and we piled on and returned to our hotel. A good night sleep is in order as tomorrow we have numerous performances at various places around Shanghai.

Lana and Rachel xo

Shanghai Day 9 - 17th Sep 2012

Day 9 of our trip has been jam packed full!

After an early start to get ready for our first performance in our brand new costumes, we arrived at our destination for our first performance in shanghai.
Here to the excitement of many team members, we were greeted and escorted by a team of security guards. Wherever we went, they followed, stopped traffic for us and even pushed old ladies out of the way! As Lewis said 'I tots feel like Gaga'. Whilst warming up for our performance we were surprised be caught up in the middle of a protest against japan. Once the whirlwind protest moved on, it was time to preform. To our disappointment our first performance didn't go as well as planned with a tiny stage for our large team and music problems. However, after being escorted to our next destination by the security guards, we arrived feeling like celebrities. Our second performance came together beautifully with our gold kilts swinging on a big wooden stage and the music continuing through our performance. A large crowd cheered once we had finished our 20 minute set. After a spot of shopping and a stop at a starbucks for the coffee deprived, we all headed towards the harbor for lunch.

After yet another Chinese lunch we all hopped back on the bus and headed to Shanghai Zoo. The zoo was definitely a highlight of the day with everyone being able to see some real live pandas and white tigers! Almost all team members left the zoo with panda bear toys as a reminder of the huge yet adorable pandas we just saw.

Back at the hotel there was enough time for a quick rest and costume change before heading off to our performance spot for the night. On arrival, we were pleasantly surprised to see acts from other counties were also there. We were taken to our seats where a whole bunch of goodie bags were waiting for us.

First we performed 'Thistle and the Fern' which sounded fantastic with the Chinese voice over. As the boys were getting ready for their next dance, we were stopped and told that we would not be allowed to perform the rest of our dancers. Thankfully Robyn managed to talk some sense into them and we were allowed to finish our set once all the other acts had performed. We all returned to our seats to watch some Chinese modling, Bollywood dancing and some very interesting samba dancers from Finland. By the time it got to the second to last act of the night, the Italian comic band, almost all the the audience had left! We all ended up dancing to the Italian band in front of the stage and we made sure we were the best audience we could be for them. As there was no one left to watch us, we decided to just leave and head on to dinner. We arrived at the restaurant at 9.30 to find that we were the only customers there and that they were staying open for us!
On the way back to the hotel, we all released our inner pop stars by having a sing-a-long in the bus.

It's been a very long day with a couple more team members falling ill, having to dance in extremely hot conditions and we all learnt new things about some team members for example, did you know that youth rep Kate Wills can rap??!

We are all looking forward to our final performance tomorrow at the Pearl tower!

Goodnight from Shanghai!

Emma D and Nicole Harvey

Hawkes Bay Junior Bronze Medal Test Candidates - 15th Sep 2012

Hawkes Bay Junior Bronze Medal Test Candidates These 3 candidates sat their Junior Bronze medal Test and are pictured with their projects

Emily Watt - Flower of Scotland
Emma Cavaney - The Scottish Flag
Holly Barclay - Clan Barclay

Shanghai - Day 6 - 14th Sep 2012

Shanghai - Day 6 Ni Hao New Zealand!

Well what a day! Day six on our tour was a big one. We woke to the news that Sarah Gluyas and Nicole Harding had taken ill overnight and would not be joining us on the tour. We started at The Temple of Heaven, formerly a place of sacrifice and prayer but now a park for the locals to enjoy their various hobbies. Some of the team tried their hand at Tai Chi with Jackie, our tour guide, stepping in to show them how its done. We snapped some photos in front of the temple before rehearsing two of our dances on temple grounds. We drew a good sized crowd who thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Some hoped we would be coming back tomorrow so they could watch it again.
After the Temple of Heaven it was back on the bus, next stop the pearl factory. We watched a demonstration on how freshwater pearls are harvested and were amazed by the number of pearls in each oyster (31 in the oyster we watched being shucked!). We were then shown to the shop floor where very few of the team left empty handed.
Our last stop of the morning was the Hutong district, the old city neighbourhood of Beijing. A pedicab tour through the narrow alleyways and courtyard gardens took us to our lunch destination which was a local family's house. The cook, Mr Yang, turned out to be the former chef of the fourth Chairman of China. The food was delicious and easily some of the best we've had so far. We hopped back on the pedicab to head to back to the bus. Sam was eager to have go at driving the pedicab but the driver would not allow it.
We returned for round two at the Pearl Street Silk Market with many of team feeling much more confident than the first time round. The kiwis bartered hard and emerged victorious over the fierce and pushy stall holders. With almost three hours of shopping under the belt and many great bargains negotiated the team returned to the bus exhausted but satisfied.
The evenings entertainment followed as we headed to the Red Theatre to see "The Legend of Kung Fu", a story of a young boys journey to become a Kung Fu master. It was good to see Sarah and Nicole were feeling well enough to join us for the show which was spectacular. Everyone in the team was impressed by the speed and strength of the performers as well as the quality of the production. Kate bought Nun-chucks as a souvenir, so no one in the team will be disagreeing with her for the rest of the trip.
Tomorrow morning we fly to Shanghai to begin preparing for the Tourism Festival, it be another huge day with wake call at 6am and rehearsals scheduled till midnight. Before then the team must figure out how to fit all their shopping in their luggage without going over the weight limit.

Zài jiàn,
Sam and Leighton

Shanghai Day 5 - 13th Sep 2012

Shanghai Day 5 The team are all well and had another very good rehearsal this morning, we have our last day of tour in Beijing tomorrow where we are also going to give a performance at the Temple of Heaven!

Everyone is looking forward to shanghai now and all excited about the opening parade.

The photo is of Mr Xue who we have been liaising with for the last 12 months

Shanghai Day 5 - Blog 2 - 13th Sep 2012

Nicole Harvey, Lewis Gibson, Jessica Findlay, Harriet Lintern, Sarah Gluyas, Emma Cropper & Shirana Rengasamy with a Chinaman Ni Hao!
Along with the traditional multicultural wakeup call at 7 this morning, we were treated to a glimpse of the blue sky we thought existed only in New Zealand. Free from the typical clouds of smog and with a lovely gust of wind to help us on our way, we once again made use of our lovely, well-furnished rehearsal room, the car park. With a much cooler climate than the previous days and a lovely area of shade, we set about perfecting our dances which are now looking sharp and ready to go despite a few minor glitches in the sound system.
At the completion of our four hour practice session we dragged our sun burnt and lethargic bodies up to our rooms to prepare for a whirlwind trip to the mall. The girls proved that they all had missed Forever 21 and reveled in the four story store we found today! After running around (literally) with arms laden with bags we headed back to the subway just in time for peak hour traffic. Many of us had thought our previous tube rides were cramped but boy were we proved wrong… It was practically impossible to move as we packed in like sardines; the rules were if you can breathe you can fit one more person and it was every man for himself. After nearly suffocating on the ride home many of the company collapsed straight into bed while some of the more musical members attended the Opera.
The Opera was such an experience! The seven of us (Kendall, Kate, Sara, Robyn, Sarah, Lucy and I) all dressed up and scrambled through the rush hour traffic to be ready in time. Dressed and ready to go, we entered the theatre early enough to get good seats near the front of our section. Half an hour and an ice cream later, we began our first experiences of a Chinese Opera. The most noticeable thing about the opera is the costumes. Bright colours, Gold sparkles and huge, extravagant head gear filled the stage. The second thing that is noticeable is the music. With different instruments leading the fray, it was a bit daunting but we soon got used to the music and crashing percussion. With a few interesting translations, we were able to get the gist of the four storylines presented to us, and we were wowed by the pitches the men-who-played-women could reach, the leaps and jumps of the two martial arts ‘fighters’ and the length at which the actor who played the final emperor could hold a note. A one in a lifetime experience that I’m sure we’ll remember for years to come.
Zai Jian, Good night
Danielle and Niamh

Shanghai day 4 - Great Wall - 12th Sep 2012

Shanghai day 4 - Great Wall Ni Hao

Was an early start for the second day of our tour.
Eager to leave, we couldn't wait to see more.

The Jade Factory, was our first stop.
Lewis made the cleaners, reach for a mop.

The first of our team, to be sick.
Made us all reach for our hand sanitizer quick.

On the Great Wall we did a Fling.
The highlight so far of our time in Beijing.

We all thought our legs were going to die.
As the climb up the wall started to reach the sky.

Julie and Robyn became Chinese empresses.
When the dressed up in traditional dresses.

Lunch was next, to get some food.
Our chopstick technique has definitely improved.

After lunch we climbed back on our bus.
To head to the Summer Palace without a fuss.

At the palace, we were a sight to see.
With all the Chinese acting like paparazzi.

A waiata was next sung by us all on a boat.
We were lucky to survive; it didn't look like it could float.

Traditional hats bought by Harriet and Emma.
Snatched straight from their heads, it caused such a dilemma.

At the end of the day, on the way to tea.
We passed the Birds Nest, what a sight to see.

The acrobat show came lucky last.
Boy o boy, what a blast.

Lots of strong arms, flexibility and sparkly gear.
Gave the boys some ideas for their lifts next year.

The days come to an end, we just heard about Christchurch’s bad weather.
For all of us here in China we just had the best day ever!!

Zaijen from Emma Cropper and Sarah Robson.

Shanghai Day 3 - 11th Sep 2012

We were hussled out of bed with a 7am “Bonjour” wake up call, and a quick breakfast of French fries and fruit we prepared for our first China rehearsal.

It was deemed too expensive to hire a room to practice in, so we started off in the elevator lobby on the 6th floor. Unfortunately, there were people actually wanting to use the elevators, and the lack of air conditioning (need I remind everyone its 30degees here, and incredibly humid) meant that it wasn’t long before Richard and Peter were sent to find us a plan B! So we found ourselves the object of public curiosity dancing in the hotel carpark, we are pleased to be reassured that the Chinese audience found us, shall we say, interesting. Although the carpark had many appealing qualities, we still found ourselves truly sweating off last nights Peking Duck!

Much to our surprise the voice overs in the thistle and the fern have now been translated into Chinese, we watched intently so see the reaction of our audiences faces, and while we cant say for sure they understood, we certainly tripled our audience!

After 3 hours of the hardest lesson of our lives,  we headed up for a cold shower!
The next project for our free day was to head for the silk markets. Without our now famous tour guide Jacky, we had to attempt this venture on our own although his parting works were “While my body won’t be with you, I will be with you in my heart”.

The journey to the silk market:

1. The Bus
It looked like there was room for 5, yet we all managed to pile in, this wasn’t too much of a problem, until more and more people got on the bus at each stop – I don’t think the Chinese understand the concept of personal space! We knew we had to get off at stop number 6, what we didn’t know was whether we would all be able to get off before the doors shut! We give the bus system 5/10, attaining points on timeliness and value for money ($1 Yuan, 20cents NZ).

2. The Subway
The ticket lady was a little shocked when Sara went to order 29 tickets. Getting onto the train was another matter, trying to navigate the entrance and exit automated gates, luckily for the very nice Chinese man that gave us a very slow motion demonstration! We give the subway system an 8/10, for points on air-conditioning, speed, and clear signage, but it lost points for one little pick pocket that got away with a watch from someone’s wrist!

By some miracle we all made it, 29 accounted for at the entrance of the Silk market. Surprisingly, the market was indoors, 6 storeys of shopping each containing a different type of good. The art of buying was also quite difficult with pushy shop owners literally dragging you into the stores and having to barter for a good price, it was generally all in good spirits and it wasn’t long before we got into the spirit. Julie was told she was a “crazy lady” when suggesting a price deemed too low. Some of the team members were more barter savvy than others, and there were many bargains made. The boys had a good time, Leighton’s technique of flirting with the shop owners helped him attain a handmade “best quality in China” hat, Lewis spent all this time bartering and not actually buying, and Sam learnt his lesson not to stick with the girls, only coming home with one painted paper! Show and tell in the hotel was fun, with everyone showing off their purchases ranging from Harriet’s rainbow umbrella hat to handbags, sneakers, dresses and souvenirs. The only downside of show and tell was realising that you paid double what someone else did for the same item!
To end a fun but not so restful free day, we headed to the hotel restaurant for a little bit of western culture, good old fashioned burgers and fries!
We will leave you with the Chinese phrases learnt today
- Zai Zher (roughly pronounced seann truibhas) I want to get off the subway
- Tai Guile (roughly pronounced tequila) Too expensive

We will sleep well tonight.

Kate and Kendall

The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing Inc., PO Box 5470, Palmerston North
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