Saturday, February 16, 2008

Watching the Shaolin monks

We nipped in to sample some of Te Papa's 10th anniversary celebration. Mainly, to see the famous Shaolin Monks in action. It's nothing like David Carradine in Kung Fu - but you probably already knew that.

The amphitheatre was crowded; so crowded that latecomers ended up sharing space with ducks who'd wandered up from the pond outside the main building. It was so crowded that, when it was time for the strapping young specimens of Chinese athleticism to start their demonstration, they first had to persuade dozens of spectators to back up. We had to squeeze up so much that The Boy, long limbed as he is, had to fold himself up like a glasshoppah (if you say if with a fake Chinese accent).

And still, there was only just enough space. I worried when the monks started their routine with the sword-thingummis, because the idiots who plonked themselve down right at the front, refused to get up and go somewhere safer. In fact, I'm pretty certain that there were at least a couple of unwanted fringe trims before the show was over.

They wore bright orange robes that coincidentally matched the hue of the flowers worn by the previous entertainers, a local kapa haka group. Some of their routines looked like dance moves - there was even a moment when I was sure he was break-dancing. A young kid (perhaps 10 years old) who threw his body around like a yelling, thumping gymnast, was an early favourite. The choreographed routines with staffs (i.e. big sticks) were familiar and impressive. Watching one guy break a staff on another's bicep was possibly my personal highlight.

And then it was time to get spicy noodles for lunch.


Angela said...

I think that would have been quite entertaining of courseI would have to have a verbal play by play

Desiree said...

Well, Angela; if you'd come to the evening performance as I did at the Michael Fowler Centre last night, you would possibly had got a loud running commentary from your elderly Chinese neighbour, as I did. Thank God they spoke my dialect so that I could ask them to "be quiet" 8-)
Impressions? A very slick, polished performance. I thought there might have been a bit more stone breaking. Using chi to throw a needle through a glass plate was the highlight for me. The little boy monk was certainly the crowd pleaser.