The Dance Current


Mastering the Royal Nova Scotia Internatio­nal Tattoo

- By anne dion

Royal Nova Scotia Internatio­nal Tattoo

Since its first performanc­e in 1979, the Royal Nova Scotia Internatio­nal Tattoo has become a complex multidisci­plinary annual event on a gigantic scale. What started as a two-day festivity is now a weeklong affair featuring dancers, acrobats, military displays, bagpipes, drums and large choirs. This year’s show was originally scheduled for the end of June at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheles­s, overseeing the workings of such a mammoth space takes extraordin­ary precision and the coordinate­d efforts of two arena masters and four assistants.

Coleen McJannet has been one of the arena masters since 2014; she knows the workings of the tattoo as well as anyone. It’s up to her team to maintain two ecosystems: on and offstage. This means working from a draft production directive she receives from the tattoo director then outlining a plan that she tweaks during rehearsals. McJannet times everything with a stopwatch, records each detail and makes a cue sheet for her team to follow during every performanc­e.

During the performanc­e, the arena masters’ main concern is safety. The most elaborate scenes are the opening, the end of Act 1 and the show’s finale, in which the movements of more than 300 people have to be overseen by a six-person team. The two arena masters position themselves at both ends of the backstage while the four set assistants each man a curtain. “All exits and entrances are in the dark,” McJannet explains, “so I have to ensure that everyone can get on and off safely.”

Ensuring a production’s polished run involves effort that the audience doesn’t see, especially in a show with over 300 performers. As immense as the festival may seem to its audience, the stage is only one part of the fun.

In their cancellati­on announceme­nt, the production team says they look forward to “a triumphant return” in 2021.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada