Arts & Culture / Music & Entertainment July 2, 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES at the Tattoo!

This is my second year with the Tattoo, and I have to admit that it’s been an absolute treat to work on this world-class show for its 35th anniversary production. We’ve been in the Halifax Metro Centre for just over two weeks now and on the eve of our first show, I’m delighted that I get to give you behind the scenes access for what to expect when you come to the show.

This year to help us celebrate, we have the best drumming display team in the world; numerous gymnasts from Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark; a celebrated bicycle team from the Netherlands; brass bands from the United Kingdom; not to mention the many talented bands, soloists, choirs, pipes and drums, and dancers from across North America.

This is going to be an amazing show, so here’s what you need to know about this year’s Tattoo:

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably seen Top Secret Drum Corps on the cover of Metro Halifax or featured on CTV and CBC News. This drumming display team from Basel, Switzerland, is considered to be the best in the world, and the fiery, fast-paced routine they’ve prepared showcases their precision and speed, and is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat.

The Flying Grandpas of the Hamburg Police Force are back to help us celebrate our 35th anniversary. They’re a crowd favourite and by far the most requested act when we ask the audience who they’d like to see again. This year marks their 50th anniversary as a group, and the 25th anniversary of their partnership with the Tattoo.

Starbugs is a comedic trio, also from Switzerland, who has already taken Europe by storm but are here in Halifax for the first time. They’ve created what they call “rhythmic comedy” and it’s a blend of gymnastics, dance, and non-verbal comedy. From what I’ve seen in rehearsals, I think they’re going to be great.

One of my favourite performing groups from last year is back this year, the Nova Scotia Irish Dancers. The brilliant choreography, the cute costumes and the catchy music equals a great scene.

Showproject is another talented gymnastics group set to take the stage this week. What makes them exciting is that a few of their members have competed in the Olympics – in Beijing, London, and some are in training for Rio 2016! I think you’ll like the humorous Crash Test Dummies routine.

When I watch Talentholdet gymnasts rehearse their intricate skipping routine, all I can think of is how I’d be tangled in a knot on the floor if I ever attempted what they’re doing. These talented Danish gymnasts range in age from 10-22 years old and the complexity of their two routines will amaze you.

Another local act, new this year, is the North Nova Education Centre Jazz Choir. They’re performing two jazzy numbers in the show: “Over the Rainbow” and “Sing, Sing, Sing” – two songs that have been in my head for a while now.

The Juliana Bicycle Team from the Netherlands is performing two daring routines featuring bikes of all sizes. I can’t help but be amazed at the training and the skill that goes into perfecting a routine like that. I think you’ll like what the Julianas have in store for you.

Every year the Tattoo commemorates a significant historical anniversary, usually a military anniversary, and this year we’re commemorating the Centennial of World War I. The various scenes dedicated to WWI will feature the choirs, bands, soloists, pipes, and drums, and extras wearing historically accurate costumes. The scenes are powerful and will no doubt leave you with a patriotic feeling.

Of course, the Tattoo isn’t just what you see for the two-and-a-half hours in the Metro Centre – there are Festival Events and the Button Campaign all happening while the Tattoo is on. Festival Events take place at noon during Tattoo week when there are evening shows (this year July 2-4 and 7-8) and happen around the Halifax Regional Municipality. You can find a complete schedule on the Tattoo’s website.

The Button Campaign is an annual scavenger hunt planned in partnership with many local businesses around the province. Simply find all the buttons, take a picture of yourself wearing them in front of a participating business, and you could win a weekend getaway in Pictou County. Doesn’t that sound like a treat? You should definitely check this out.

Photo #1: NS Tourism