Previous Articles2 (Whirlwind) Days In Chengdu
Chengdu & Qingdao / Regionals Were A Blast! / Looking Forward To Semifinals!
Posted on Sep 1
Only three days in Hong Kong and I was back on another plane to CHINA. My adventure in these two cities (Chengdu & Qingdao) was an unforgettable excursion.
I knew when I left Hong Kong that this trip included the “Dance Passion” Show Taping of the final regional competition in Chengdu before the semifinals, and my attendance to China's largest festival, The Tsingtao Beer Festival, in Qingdao. The NBA and Tsingtao requested my appearance and performance at both cities. Knowing this I just prepared myself for another whirlwind trip, since there is a four hour flight between these two cities.
Upon my arrival in Chengdu (very early), I was welcomed by the NBA CREW which took me to the training camp venue to begin practicing with the contestants on their opening number and several other routines that they would have to master in a short amount of time. The length of time that permitted me to spend with these contestants tested me not only professionally but physically too.
I gave them a lot of choreography and stayed with them into the late evening hours hoping that they were retaining as much as possible and stressing the importance of practicing on their own. On my way out, I got a sneak peak at the stage for the final show as it was being set up. What a long day, a quick snack and some much needed SHUT EYE was next on my agenda.
The next morning I only had a short time (before heading to the airport to Qingdao) for a brief review of the dances with the girls, reiterating how important it is to practice on their own, and to let them know that I would not see them until dress rehearsal. I took a brief look at the building of the stage, and then we were off to the airport for a four hour flight to Qingdao.
After an early morning of dance and a long flight, I was a little fatigued upon my arrival in Qingdao, but not too exhausted to enjoy the scenery. Qingdao is a major seaport, naval base, and industrial center. It is also the site of the Tsingtao Brewery. At first I thought I was in need of a nap, but not at this time. As soon as I arrived at the hotel, I was joined with my partner ( DARYL DAWKINS ) for the rest of the trip. What a surprise to be teamed with this special person. Daryl Dawkins, most recognized for his playing days with the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets. He did play briefly for the Detroit Pistons and the Utah Jazz late in his career. His nickname was “Chocolate Thunder” for his powerful dunks, which he was referred to throughout the entire trip.
That evening I was a special guest at the opening ceremony of the Tsingtao Beer Festival. The City was filled with travelers from around the world visiting the festival. The stadium was packed, and the show was amazing. The presentation began with a remarkable fireworks show and continued with bizarre performances, beautiful singers, and dozens of beer drinking competitions in this themed celebration, “Cheer for the Motherland and Toast with the World.”
At the closing of this exhilarating event, my head could not hit my comfy pillow too soon. Catching a few ZZZ'S was so inviting.
The next (early rise and shine) day Daryl and I were escorted to the local Tsingtao Television Station for interviews and a fun appearance on the Morning Show. My Solo Performance was requested to promote the “Dance Passion” as well as the festival. It was a pleasure to meet and appear again with Ms. Yan Xu, Vice President and President-Marketing of Tsingtao Brewery, when she joined us on the Morning Show. We signed many autographs and took many photos, and then we were off to the next fun filled event of the day, but not before hydrating with a Gatorade that was BULLS BRANDED. Yes, MJ follows me everywhere, and I am so proud to wear the BULLS brand!
Our next stop was Tsingtao's Annual Luncheon. Top executives from all over CHINA gathered to celebrate the year. Daryl and I were guests of honor at this room filled with hundreds. As you can see, Daryl wanted to support me and the BULLS and wore his matching RED!!! Everyone Loved IT!
I even had the chance to speak with Mr. Zujiang Huang, Assistant President and General Manager of Tsingtao Brewery Co. Such a pleasure to be asked to speak and perform at the luncheon. Then I changed for the occasion and took a seat to enjoy the wonderful meal filled with many Chinese Delights, and OH HOW DELICIOUS!
One might think after this celebration that it was time to rest, well think again, it was time to freshen up and get ready for the Evening Festivities.
This Tsingtao Beer Festival had kicked off the night before with many events. After about two hours in traffic for a distance that should only take 30 minutes max, we arrived at the festival.
Upon our arrival at the festival, many huge tables filled with beer-swigging Chinese could be seen and heard. Many beautiful women performed on stage, and music of all kinds was being featured at numerous stage venues. Tons of food, both Chinese and Western, to gorge on, and just like in the STATES, much Chinese drinking. The festival featured Artistic Parades, Beer Carnival Games, Beer Tastings, Drinking Contests, Music, Foods, and Interactive Performances by many Chinese Talents. If karaoke was your thing, well, you could test your singing skills in front of huge crowds, and could even buy a CD recording of your song if you so desired. As I have mentioned in the past, I have become somewhat of a karaoke fan, so I was GAME! Then I was advised against it due to the numbers in the crowd. Security was an extreme issue. NBA has remarkable security, and it was comforting to have this security everywhere.
In the VIP ROOM, Daryl and I were interviewed by so many newspapers and television stations as well as continually photographed by the media. When I was scheduled to take stage for my grand performance, security surrounded me, and then proceeded to take me straight to our bus. At that time I was briefed about the crowd getting too rowdy which made it no longer safe for me to perform. I was a little disappointed that I was not able to dance, but was fortunate that security realized the extent of the situation before I went on stage. It was late and crowd control was getting harder to manage.
We headed back to the hotel, but made a pleasurable stop at KFC for a late night snack (Daryl's Favorite). It was nice to return to the hotel safe and sound. Some REST is better than none!
The next morning (4:45 am), we were on our way to the airport for the four hour flight back to Chengdu for the final day of the show taping. As soon as we landed, NBA CREW rushed me to the venue for dress rehearsal . I was a little nervous to see if the girls had progressed without my guidance, but actually the girls were almost ready. We spent some time on their formations and positioning them on the stage, then we reviewed the choreography. In need of some much do rest, NBA CREW took me to the hotel to check in, and I did manage to grab a short nap before preparing and returning to the venue for the show taping.
When we arrived, Daryl and I did many media interviews. I filmed show plugs for NBA TV in China
and reviewed the script. We were then joined by Ms. Yan Xu, Vice President and President-Marketing of Tsingtao Brewery to conclude some interviews and pictures. Then it was time to go backstage and get ready for the taping.
The SHOW started just like all the others with great energy in our Opening Dance. After my interview on stage, Daryl Dawkins joined us for some interactions on stage. His Gold Outfit was a smashing hit on stage.
After judging, commenting, performing a few more times, more interviews on stage, it was time for the crowning of the winners of this final regional competition. Emotions filled the whole area as the winners were announced. There were tears of joy, tears of pain, and kind of heartbreaking to see the faces of the girls who gave their best and did not make the final cut. What an overwhelming picture to see the faces of the girls that are just one more step closer to realizing their dreams. This was the final regional stop, and now CHINA has 48 finalists. I will see these 48 contestants at the semifinals in Xi'an and Guangzhou.
The final SHOW was taped for the REGIONALS, many photos were taken, many autographs were signed, and many good-byes were said. My body begged for some rest, but my mind was so wound up from the excitement and proud of our accomplishment over the past few weeks, so we enjoyed some good Chinese food. We all had some laughs and celebrated a long but successful trip!
In just a few hours (before sunrise) this whirlwind trip came to a close. I was on my way back to Hong Kong. Now it is time for me to prepare for the semifinals working on new music, choreography, and costumes. Actually, my immediate plan is to listen to my body and SLEEP – SLEEP – SLEEP.
Signing Off For Now.
Until Next Time,