Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wiener Opernball 2009

Five Malaysian couples participated in the Wiener Opernball 2009, that is how they described it in Vienna. Looking at the comments made by some television personalities, it can be very exciting or tearfully boring. For our Malaysian couples it was a chance to experience European culture. The whole process of dressing in long white gowns with tiara and the gentlemen in their tails and white bow ties.

It was Winter weather in Vienna and the European winter is always wet with slush. Not a pleasant thing when you get wet cold snow on the legs of your pants or the fringe of your gown. Prior to the grand day the dancers have to attend classes at appointed dance school in Vienna where they teach you the Polonaise and of course the Viennese Waltz. How to march properly, the proper way to curtsy and bow to your partner. These are courtesies of the 17th and 18th Century long forgotten and not practiced anymore but are kept alive by this historical event.

Vienna is of course the right place for great composers like Johan Strauss, Mozart, Schubert and Joseph Haydn were their favorite sons. This year Vienna State Opera celebrate the 140 year Jubilee (1869 - 2009). On the 25th of May 1889 the Opera House then opened with a performance of Mozart's Don Juan. This year there will be an open house to display the past events of the Opera House.

The Vienna Opera House started on a very bad footing. When it was unfolded to the public the criticism was just too much for the architects. It was called the 'Sunken Box" and this led Van Der Null to commit suicide by hanging himself and two months later August Sicard died of a heart attack. Not withstanding the public out cry, the building was destroyed completely during the second War and it was rebuilt strictly following the original plans. I suppose their souls has been vindicated. Sadly a bit too late.

Enough said about the historical opera house. Of course there are participants from other countries and the group in their tour met a participant from the Philippines and probably from other Asian countries too. The majority of course are Austrians. The highlight of the evening are some performances by the Vienna State Ballet and opera singing by a Georgian singer called Tamara Iveri and a Mexican tenor Ramon Vargas. I suppose those into this will know who these singers are.

For the participants, the evening grand event is the marching in and doing the quadrille and polonaise. The music is by the Vienna Opera Ball orchestra and their purpose, according to the program book, was to provide Viennese Dance Music from the 18th Century up till the present times to the world. The symphonic orchestra is under the baton of Professor Wolfgang Jelinek.

When the initial bars of Johann Strauss 'An der schonen blauen Donau op.314" ( On the beautiful Blue Danube Op.314") is played , the participants will dance the Viennese Waltz for about one and half minutes and then, the Dance Master will make an announcement " Alles Walzer" ( Everybody Waltz ). At that point all hell break loose, the rope barrier is brought down and the floor is packed to the brim with a miasma of bodies and perfume of all conceivable fragrances.

Most of our Malaysian participated and enjoyed themselves till the wee hours of the morning and it is not unusual for them to party till 5.00 a.m. when the buses and trains starts their service for the day. Those who are unable to take it left early.

The main river of Austria is the Danube river. It flows lazily and meander pass Vienna and on certain parts they share the river with Hungary. In summer you can see the beautiful Danube swans not in winter though. The first picture above is the Danube taken from Hungary. The second picture are our Malaysian participants and the final picture was taken at rehearsal time in the Opera House.

That concludes the story of our Malaysian couple at the Wiener Opernball 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

3rd Asian Indoor Games, Hanoi, Vietnam

The Olympic Council of Malaysia has announced that the 3rd Asian Indoor Games in Hanoi, Vietnam will be held from 30th October till the 8th of November. The manual for Dancesport is not out yet, but I suppose the format and sequences of the dances should be the same with 12 medals in total open for contention. In the Macau 2007, 2nd Asian Indoor Games each country can technically bring in 12 couples for Dancesport, meaning you can plan a couple to specialise in a particular event. However in the Team Dancesport Malaysia 2007, we only selected 3 of Malaysian top ranked couples in each discipline. Latin American and Standard. Will there be a change in Team Dancesport Malaysia 2009 ? This will depend on MPDC and the announcement that will follow after the 3rd ranking.

The logo is an image of a lotus created by flaming colour petals. The petals are made to look like hands holding a symbol of Asian Solidarity, Friendship and cooperation ( extract from
AIG web site). What I was told is that Dancesport will be held at the Quan Ngua Sports Palace. No dates have been given but we do hope that it will be early so that all of our athletes and officials have the opportunity to attend the Opening Ceremony. A very exciting experience of camaraderie to make new friends from the Asian region, exchanging pin badges and taking lots of pictures. The hotel allocated for Dancesports the La Than Hotel, it looks like one of those charming French Colonial Hotels and again looking at the map it is walking distance from the Hotel to the Competition Venue. The location of the Sport Palace is next to a very beautiful Lake called the West Lake by the Vietnamese. To use a term by a Vietnamese friend, to describe West Lake, "... that place is " So Happening". I suppose those who are familiar with that lingo, a place with lots of activities.

I will keep you posted more and if possible pictures of the Sporting Venue and more news on the 3rd Asian Indoor Games as and when it comes in. It would be good if you want to know more about the Games to Google on 3rd Asian Indoor Games, Hanoi