The New Zealand Academy of Highland and National Dancing

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

Shanghai - Day 2 - Sightseeing - 10th Sep 2012

Shanghai - Day 2 - Sightseeing After a ‘surprise’ wakeup call at 7am in three different languages, the team went down to our hotel restaurant for a massive breakfast to start the day. Another crazy bus ride filled with near-misses and tips from our lovely guide Jackie, we arrived in The Forbidden City. HUGE is one word to describe it. With one million workers taking years to complete it, we spent the morning gazing in awe at the beautiful buildings, artwork and amazing workmanship. Off to restaurant for lunch, the team was well fed with some new toilet experiences for some of the girls! Next was a stop by The Egg, a $3.6billion opera house made out of glass. Onto Tian’an men Square; the largest public square in the world. As the team posed for photos, we were surrounded by tons of locals taking photos of us too! Without even performing we became a tourist attraction. A walk underground and we found ourselves at the newly refurbished Beijing Museum. The team learnt a lot about Ancient and New China with history-expert Jackie providing a great insight for us. The long awaited Duck Banquet was incredible! We are now professional chopstick users so hopefully we are blending in! With full bellies some of the tem took a quick look at the nearby shops with live music, street performers and market stalls creating an awesome atmosphere. Zaijen!

Harriet Lintern and Chantelle Shatford

Shanghai Day 1 - "The Highland Dance Company of NZ takes on China" - 9th Sep 2012

Shanghai Day 1 - "Day 1 of our latest adventure has been a resounding success. After negotiating check-in in Auckland - no mean feat when we are travelling as a group of 29 along with 2 full-to-the-brim suitcases of costumes, not to mention the 3 swords.... - we were all excited to be embarking on another amazing trip.

The journey was remarkably uneventful - noone lost any belongings, and we (mostly) all managed to get a few zzzs on the 12 hour flight over to Shanghai. Unfortunately, accompanying us on the flight were a few screaming infants. Those of us with earplugs were definitely the envy of the plane!

Shanghai airport was our first taste of China. From the moment we stepped off the plane into the humid heat, to the instant we walked through the arrivals gate and saw shop after shop with crabs tied up in the front windows, we knew we were in for an experience to be remembered! While at Shanghai airport some of us learnt some Mandarin phrases from friendly locals, some of us took advantage of the massaging chairs in the lounges, while others chose this time to savour some sweet treats. Thankfully the stopover before departing for Beijing was only a few hours (nothing like the challenging itinery we had going to Virginia earlier in the year!) and we were on our final league of the journey in no time.

On our arrival to Beijing we were greeted by the lovely smiling face of our tour guide for the next 5-6 days, Jacky Wan. What he doesn't know about Beijing isn't worth knowing! He shared some of his wealth of knowledge during the bus ride in to our hotel, including some handy hints on how not to get scammed by the local market vendors. We were all a bit daunted by some of the stories he told of other tourists downfalls!

After a long days travel, we ventured out for a Chinese dinner to celebrate our arrival. We are realising that mime is a fantastic communication tool when spoken language fails us! We are all well and truly ready for a long sleep to prepare ourselves for the excitement that beckons. Tomorrows agenda - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and Peking Duck. Wow we can't wait!

Kylie and Sara

Highland Dance Company off to Shanghai Tourism Festival - 7th Sep 2012

“The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand leave for Beijing tonight where they will be involved in rehearsals, sightseeing and shopping before heading to Shanghai to perform in the Shanghai Tourism Festival.

In Beijing they will be visiting Tian’anmen Square, the National Centre for Performing Arts, the Forbidden city and a welcome dinner at the Famous Beijing Duck banquet, Great Wall of China at the Juyongguan section, The Summer Palace, and will be attending the amazing Beijing Acrobatic show, A pedi cab tour of the Hutong – the “old City” and will share a special lunch with a family in their home, and Tour the Temple of Heaven before travelling to Shanghai to commence preparations for the Festival.

Their itinerary for the festival is as follows:

September 14 – Rehearsals
September 15 – Opening Ceremony
September 16 – 2 x public performances – Najing Road and Jingan Hotel
September 17 – 1 public performance – Oriental Pearl Tower and then visit to the Tower

The Dance Company arrive home on September 19th.

On behalf of Executive and Academy members, we wish the group a safe and exciting trip and look forward to reading the daily blogs”

Life Members & 50 year members of Academy - 2nd Sep 2012

The  Paragraph  in the latest newsletter regarding the Dance Development Course was incorrect and should have read as follows:

"Life Members of the Academy and 50 year bar members will not be required to pay for the Dance Development Course if attending conference."

Please accept my sincere apologies


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