Preview at the Italian Cultural Centre, Vancouver – May 10, 2016
The Adventures of Marco Polo will be performed at the River Rock Show Theatre on May 13 & 14.
Marco Polo’s legendary travels illustrate exotic lands and an explorer’s adventurous spirit, and they have also inspired a vibrant dance performance. The Adventures of Marco Polo, performed by the Honhot Song and Dance Troupe of Nationalities, is presented by the International Multicultural Development Foundation. They will perform two shows at the The River Rock Show Theatre, and tonight was a preview with a banquet at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver.
Introductory speeches and a glossy brochure described that one of the functions of the IMDF – a Canadian non-profit organization with chapters globally – is to organize multicultural exchanges and arts presentations. True to their ambition, the evening sampled world cultures, starting with local talents in music and dance that included performances of Canadian Aboriginal song and drumming, Ukrainian folk dancing, Scottish Highland and Irish Stepdancing, and a demonstration of Indian folk musical instruments and singing.
Next came the visiting talents. Mongol-Chinese singer Uudam, who appeared in China’s Got Talent in 2011, sang two songs for the audience. Then the Honhot Song and Dance Troupe of Nationalities took to the stage to perform six samples from The Adventures of Marco Polo, and showcased the diverse talent of the troupe and diverse cultures that Marco Polo would’ve experienced in his travels across Asia.
Nine ladies in long white dresses in a headdress shaped like a swan’s head moved softly in formations like a graceful flock, then revealed a wide span of feathered wings when they lifted their arms. The next number was an impressive show of acrobatics. A performer came onstage then lay on her back in a reclined chair with her feet pointed upward. She balanced a four-legged square table with her feet, flipping and spinning it, and in one moment, the face of the table pirouetted on one of her toes.
Eight male dancers in fur-lined hats charged with full bravado to rhythmic drum beats. With a wide stance and flexed arms, they moved through formations set against a projected backdrop of falling snow and evoked a courageous and arduous journey. Perhaps one that led to the discovery of the next performer, a man performing the traditional act of balancing a heavy clay pot on his head as he walked and turned, spinning the pot in different variations. Then came an acrobatic duet of a male and female dancer – he was strong anchor on which she balanced and contorted through remarkable stunts. The evening closed with the most vibrant number. Four dancers in bright green and red cloaks performed a traditional dance holding little bowls in their hands, and they were joined by five of the men in the fur-lined hats. They made me wish to experience Marco Polo’s journey; alas, this show might just be my best chance.