Company Dancer Gemma Pearce shares her experience of touring in China with us…
Touring is part of a dancer’s life. It’s not only an opportunity to share our unique Company with the world, but a challenge for us as individuals as we venture into the unknown. There will undoubtedly be long bus trips, but we’re sure to have some amazing memories that will last a lifetime.
This is my first time in China. Is it what I expected? The food is, with a wide array of dishes containing mystery ingredients. A trip to the supermarket is an experience in itself, usually ending with us buying ten things with interesting packaging, or a funny name, and then tasting at our own risk. If you’re ever wondering, Blueberry potato chips taste as bizarre as they sound!
The shopping is certainly what I had hoped for. There are huge department stores with nearly (just nearly) too many shoes, and then there’s the street markets where you can barter for anything from pearls to puppies. I was hesitant at first to try this, but after a while it becomes like a game. Offer them half of what is being asked – they react as if shocked and offended by the offered price – you go to walk away, and they inevitably chase after you! Did I mention the plethora of faux designer bags, wallets, and watches? Let’s just say that there’s more than enough to satisfy a whole company of dancers and their lucky relatives.
One thing I didn’t expect was what seems to be an absence of any sort of road rules. When catching a taxi , I grip the doors and seats in fear, as we weave in and out of traffic, with no indication, sometimes on the wrong side of the road, and have near misses with buses and pedestrians alike. Crossing the road on foot is another matter. I find myself asking myself – how badly do I need to be on the other side of the road?
When we’re not out shopping and trying to survive traffic, we’re of course dancing. It’s been a bit of a challenge to stay warm inside the large theatres here, but the expansive stages are very enjoyable for us to dance on without having to restrict any movements.
Show time feels a bit like being in a movie at a cinema. The audience chatter throughout, and continue to enter the theatre, navigating their way to their seats in the dark, well into the first act. The applause might be quieter compared to what we’ve experienced at home and in Europe, but we’re told that this isn’t a reflection of the audience’s enjoyment of the performance – it’s just part of the culture in China.
It’s been amazing having the opportunity to do something I love, with my best friends, and to do it in China.