The Great Wall Moves

Nicholas Quirke was ticking off another cultural milestones in Chinas’s capital city on 5 January 2020 when he attended Beijing’s Contemporary and Modern Dance Corporation’s World Premiere of The Great Wall at Tien Qiao Theatre. The 90 minute dance was due to have opened in 2020 but because of the lockdowns and restrictions experienced throughout the year it was rescheduled and Nicholas conveniently was around to witness it. News that his brother-in-law had been hospitalised when he woke threw him and cast a gloomy pallor on his morning. It was good to be eating again but he was practising intermittent fasting and restricting himself to raw food and rice cakes which meant cutting dinner and only a smoothie in the morning and a salad at lunch and a light snack of nuts in between. He had already dropped 3 kilos since new year and it was a promising start. The good thing about eating raw was the energy it gave him and it was impossible for him to stay indoors with all the vitality that was coursing through him. As Peng needed to frame some pictures he had been given it seemed a good opportunity to visit the Livat Mall and Ikea once again. His temperature check told him it was minus 4 degrees and it was another day to wrap up warm. He had first encountered the mall in March, on his released from quarantine and he had been charmed by the parade of rats that constituted the decorations the mall had for Chinese New Year; the year of the rat. As the new year was coming and a new display would inevitably replace the cute rodents he decided to bid a final farewell to the symbols of his birth year. He bought three frames and a duvet cover. He had tea in InWe and on his way home stopped at Walmart to get some asparagus. The temperature had dropped further to minus 7 by the evening. They had decided to walk to the theatre which was about 3 km away and by the time he arrived he could feel the cold through his gloves and trousers. The performance started late which made him utterly mystified when audience members started arriving after it had finally begun and to his irritation this continued for almost half an hour. The Great Wall, as the monument its title derived from, was a really awesome experience. He was completely captivated by the dance and the movements which were unlike anything he had seen on stage before, the dancers whirled, and contorted their arms and legs into shapes and movements that were reminiscent of tortured figures in Japanese horror movies. The grey stage was covered in chalk dust which billowed around as the dancers illustrated the history of its construction, its battles and the spare austere design reached its zenith when a monumental, shimmering red cloth invaded the monochrome landscape onto which the dancers, filmed from above, were projected performing a fractured Ziegfeld routine. It looked like they were falling from a red sky and it was breathtaking. He was very excited by what he had seen and he used the vigour that came from the experience to cycle through the arctic air to the apartment. It was late and there would be no film that night . He sent a few messages to the uk entering another lockdown before closing his eyes on the day.


Leave a Reply