A month in a floating hotel
The series about our first major international show tour is coming to an end. In our last article, we got to the successful embarkation. Today we begin at the same point. It might be worth mentioning that up to this point, the two teams have been together. From now on, this story will be from the perspective of the ship Mariella, where Terezka, Majký, Maťo and Monika were.
From the beginning of communication about the show tour, we put emphasis on the stage size. The height, length, width, lights and other technical aspects looked well according to documentation. So we were really surprised when we arrived on the stage.
Although the client had given a comfortable ceiling height of 4 meters, he had forgotten to mention that the space would be filled with brand-new lights that had cost over 20 000 EUR. So the real height was 2.3 meters. When the tallest of us raised his hands under the lights, he almost touched them, and he had no equipment in his hand. Already the rehearsal of the choreography seemed like a recipe for a perfect disaster. Well, everything is possible, when you really want.
The first point was to find the gaps between the lights where you could raise your arms, remember the positions of the lights and adjust the choreography to avoid the lights. During the first show, we were really afraid. With over 4000 EUR worth of equipment in our hands, we were passing lights worth tens of thousands by centimeters. We all had our best beaming smiles towards the audience, but our minds were fixated on the ceiling, praying that the technician wouldn't start improvised rotations with the effects lights.
Needless to say, what seemed unrealistic at first turned out beyond all expectations. The only piece of equipment that got into a severe collision with the lights was one visual poi from Lighttoys. I must add that the sturdiness and quality of this product blew our minds. What seemed like a fatal impact caused only a crack in the coat of the visual poi.
At the dress rehearsal we discussed the length of the light show with the client again. We didn’t convince the manager that 20 minutes was a really long show and that two shorter, different performances would be ideal. However, after the first show in front of the audience, he changed his mind and said we were right and if we could do the shows as we had originally planned.
So the next challenge was ahead of us. To redo the whole concept into two smaller different shows in a day, to completely reprogram all equipment and to learn everything perfectly. And that's on two ships, where the only contact between the teams was slow internet that only worked in the morning, because there's no signal at the sea. A big challenge. Again, we didn't get much sleep, but considering we'd kind of counted on it, we got it all done and before the next show, we all knew what to do.
One of the things that people who have never been on an ocean liner don't realize is that it rocks all the time. (How can you not realize… Every child knows that a boat rocks.) Well we also "knew" it, until it started rocking us during the show.
Imagine you dance, put all your energy into your performance, strike a dramatic pose, and suddenly, the boat rocks on a wave. You sit on your ass right from this super cool pose and your face doesn't look like a confident queen anymore at all (greetings to Ester … :D).
Or you do a grand-jeté in choreography and before you land, the stage drops about 30 to 40 cm. Also fun. The swinging stage is great training for stability and balance.
Overall, we were surprised that even such a large floating house is not completely stable on the water. Monika felt it the most, she told us that she was actually afraid of the mass of water when we were already on the ship. As we found out later, she was also suffering from seasickness. But you get used to everything and gradually we just enjoyed what a thrill the movements of the ship brought us.
After our premiere, which we made sure to celebrate properly, we went to explore the ship. We could have used a map. 7 floors, exactly the same aisles, several differently connected elevators, and a maze in the crew area gave us more adventure than we expected. For example, a way to the gym ended up in a private sauna club by mistake, and no one, including us, knew what we were doing there. When we left the gym, we got somewhat unexpectedly to the engine room, where we shouldn't have had a chance to get in the first place.
What we discovered very quickly was the top deck. Imagine you're standing on the bow, the Nordic wind ruffling your hair and you're looking out to the endless sea about 50 meters below you, pierced by a mass of iron. It's an incredible feeling.
On the deck, we built snowmen, played night snowball fights and philosophically debated about human insignificance for hours. Also nearly froze to death when we didn't believe the warnings and restrictions (there was a blizzard and hailstorm outside) and at 2 a.m., we decided to check it out for ourselves. Immediately after we found ourselves outside, we realized that the restrictions were justified. The wind was moving us around and a thick layer of ice under our feet didn’t make it easier to control our bodies. We could only get in by holding the railing.
The northerners are a nation of sauna lovers. It is said that Finland, for example, has more saunas than inhabitants. Also, a sauna is about the only place where they're naturally chatty. We spent a lot of time in a sauna as well. Team meetings, relaxing after the gym, even at any night hour.
The sauna was on the bow on the very bottom floor of the ship. A very powerful moment was when Majký was sitting alone in the sauna at 3 a.m., in absolute silence, and all he could hear was the sound of the ship breaking through ice. Terrifying, but amazing.
The other team even enjoyed dinner in the sauna. The local chefs have fine-tuned their relaxation by grilling sausages directly on the heated stones. That was the moment when our team members found out what the red and yellow bottles outside of the sauna were. It was ketchup and mustard…
The longer we write about these experiences, the more we remember. But the article is already too long and we thank everyone who has read this far. So we'll save other experiences for the last article, where we'll describe the beauty of the Nordic nature and say goodbye to the ship.
Thank you very much for reading our articles. We want to share everything we experience with you. Our fans, the audience at the shows and all the supporters are a very important part of the team.
About the author
He has been in the world of show business since 2008. He has performed in more than 700 shows on three continents. During his career, he has become the vice-champion of the Czech Republic in fire performance and represented the Czech Republic in the International Juggling Association. Since 2015 he has been an actor at the Hybernia Theater. He is also a moderator who has been through several Czech radio stations and is currently a freelance. He is co-owner of Aliatrix, where he is not only the CEO but also co-creator of some big projects.