In September 2020, The House of Dancing Water at Cotai’s City of Dreams will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. What was supposed to be a 10-year project, is set to last indefinitely, to the great delight of Macau and its international audience. Over six million people have come to see the show during these years and full houses in the theater are still a regular occurrence. What makes The House of Dancing Water so popular? Keep reading to find out!
The show is a brainchild of Franco Dragone, an Italian theatrical director. He is the founder and artistic director of Dragone, a creative company with large scale shows around the world, from Las Vegas to Dubai. Dragone used to be the owner of The House of Dancing Water but recently sold it to Melco Resorts & Entertainment.
Written and rehearsed in Belgium, the show was brought to the City of Dreams’ theater, purpose-built to accommodate the spectacle and 2,000 spectators. Figures aside, there are a lot of technical achievements that won The House of Dancing Water many accolades right after it premiered. It has been called the first water-based show launched in Asia. As of today, The House of Dancing Water is the largest water-based show in the world with the biggest commercial pool.
The show’s narrative revolves around a love story and takes place in two worlds, a modern mega-city and a parallel ancient land full of political drama.
Not to give away too many details, we’ll just reveal the gist of the story. On his way from Portugal to the East, an adventurous romantic traveler in a prince’s clothes survives a storm that causes his ship to sink. However, Jean (the male protagonist) finds himself in a completely different reality inhabited with peculiar characters. Among them, is the one who rules them all, vindictive but charismatic Dark Queen. Her first appearance is anything but modest. Dressed in a Victorian-like gown with a long black train behind, she floats above her loyal servants. And by the way, Dark Queen usurped the kingdom’s throne and imprisoned its rightful heir, the charming princess Aani. Notably, a former senior principal dancer of the Hong Kong Ballet plays Aani.
Obviously, Jean falls in love with the princess from the first sight and has to set her free and defeat the evil woman. Spoiler alert (you would probably guess it anyway): with a little help of his friends–mainly the fisherman who is also a master of kung fu–he succeeds with that mission.
During around a 90-minute long journey to the happy end, the audience experiences a whole spectrum of emotions with a splash of water from the pool. Some acts are moving and romantic, some are action-filled, some are humorous. Perfectly synchronized choreography, spectacular acrobatics, and risky stunts grip the spectators’ attention. 90 artists, including dancers, musicians, acrobats, gymnasts, and stuntmen cast for the show. They are the créme de la créme of the entertainment industry with years of experience in the best shows around the world. In fact, some of the artists that now perform acrobatic acts and high dives used to be professional athletes.
Live music performed by a band of four musicians–a drummer and percussionist, a keyboard player, a guitarist and erhu (a traditional Chinese instrument) player–helps set the right atmosphere for each act, while the projection, lighting and special effects move the audience from one scene to another. All the dynamic sequences of acts revolves around water. It flows, bubbles, splashes, and fountains or, so to say, dances.
Behind the scenes
The technical side of The House of Dancing Water is what helps the artistic part be even more astounding. The transformable stage turns into a seven-meter-deep pool in a matter of seconds. In the next act, that stage turns into a platform with fountains that eject water all the way up to 18 meters high. Aerial acrobats appear 17 meters above the pool from underneath the performer catwalk, jump into the pool and disappear in the water for the amount of time no creature without gills can survive.
Sorcery? Almost. Besides the performing crew that the audience sees on stage, there are more than 160 people working in technical departments, diving, and production. If the stage or pool is the heart of the show, the control booth is its brain where all behind the scenes magic is happening. A promised land for technical geeks, it accommodates operating consoles for lighting, special effects, projection and much more. Beyond the water’s surface, there is a team of divers who make sure that artists are safe and surprise the spectators with their reappearance right on time.
Naturally, artists spend a lot of time in the water which requires everybody who’s working on their hair, make-up, and costumes to pull extra tricks. To guarantee that the performers look fabulous even soaking wet, creators chose neoprene to use for the costumes and special waterproof cosmetics imported from France. There is even a wig department inside a bigger wardrobe one to take care of the numerous wigs the performers wear during the show.
Experience it for yourself
So there are many reasons to love The House of Dancing Water, a show with fans among both adults and kids. Everyone can find something to admire it for, be it the fairy-tale plot where the good guys win, breathtaking tricks, stunning lighting design or the pure joy of being a little splashed.