Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


The exciting life of a retired teacher

I went to the Orpheum Theater in the Cities this past week to see Shen Yun, a show which features dance and music styles from China. During the show, the emcees informed us the tumbling and acrobatic acts usually associated with the circus actually originated as part of Chinese music performances.
Certainly, the acrobatics we saw were dynamic and impressive. Not only were they physically demanding, they were being performed in costumes which must have seemed very warm under those stage lights.
I felt I was performing some acrobatics of my own climbing the extremely steep steps and then folding myself into the very compact seating. My knee caps formed themselves to the shape of the chair in front of me. My elbows sharpened themselves on the insides of the narrow armrests–actually putting my arms on top of them would have had me reaching halfway onto my neighbors’ laps.
Along with all that, the price for my ticket would have fed my father’s family of 15 (two adults and 13 children) for a month “back in the day,” but we all know “the day” is gone, so I probably shouldn’t dwell on that.
Still, just like the complicated and expensive drive to watch the solar eclipse, going to the Orpheum to see Shen Yun was “worth it.” It had its imperfections, but was also uplifting, stunningly beautiful, and intellectually fascinating.  There are enough minutes of footage online, I think, to show you what I mean.
Speaking of footage, though, the theater managers were intensely serious about their “photography is strictly forbidden” policy. Human nature being what it is, the announcement that no photography should occur during the show was still echoing in my ears as the show began. Yet next to me–thanks to the compact seating arrangements, pretty much in front of my eyes–a woman used her smartphone to record a few moments of the action on the stage; I would estimate 30 to 45 seconds’ worth. The teacher in me couldn’t help thinking about how useless a rule is if it’s not enforced.
Not long afterward, an usher was standing to our left. She insisted that my neighbor either hand over her phone, or delete the recording while she watched. Given the price of my ticket, I did not appreciate having the usher hovering in my line of sight while I was still trying to take everything in. The teacher in me, though, was glad to be biting her “inner” tongue.
I had a much different adventure this past Sunday. For the sake of entertaining my 12-year-old granddaughter, she and I traveled to the Wisconsin Dells. There we worked our way through “Wizard’s Quest,” an attraction that features a very large, very elaborately decorated venue. We were in a fantasy land with a dragon’s skull large enough to put a bed in, an undersea section that included a mermaid swimming above us and small sea creatures in bubbles around us, a “willow forest” with intertwining branches, and a wizard’s study filled with maps and spell books.
Our job was to move through the various settings where we would come across various characters–all immobile statues with electronic tablets in front of them. The tablets informed us of a difficulty the character was facing and asked whether we were willing to be of help.
We found ourselves bargaining for an ointment to drive stinging frogs off a tree sprite, looking for the footprints of a wayward baby salamander, and seeking shelter from an anticipated meteor shower. Each of our quests called for creative thought and walking–oh, so much walking–to get to the various locations we were advised to visit. We were either looking for clues or trying to locate and “speak” with various characters.
Still, it was an impressive venue with stunning attention to detail. It was impossible to walk through any section without being impressed. It certainly suited my granddaughter’s fascination with fantasy characters. Some of the scary monsters were so realistic, she refused to pose next to them for me. Others, on the other hand, were so beautiful or colorful or detailed, one wanted to look at them for hours. I can’t promise I will go again, but I will say I am glad to have been there at least once.


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