Urban theatre spectacle including mechanical dragon spider draws thousands

first_imgOTTAWA – Ottawa is a city used to fire-breathing politicians wandering the streets.But tens of thousands of people in the nation’s capital were treated Friday to the awakening of a beast of a different sort.Long Ma, a giant smoke-billowing, fire-breathing mechanical dragon from France, gracefully wandered the city’s streets after being “awoken” in a ceremony at Ottawa city hall.The dragon was part of an elaborate street theatre performance by French production company La Machine, brought to Ottawa for the city’s celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday, along with a 5.7-metre-high mechanical spider called Kumo.Guy LaFlamme, executive director of Ottawa 2017, first saw the dragon while in France, where it was created for a philanthropist in Beijing.LaFlamme says he immediately thought of bringing it to Ottawa, since Beijing is a sister city to Canada’s capital.In addition, Ottawa has its own giant spider, a Louise Bourgeois sculpture called Maman, just outside the National Gallery of Canada.“So I felt this is a perfect fit, having the dragon Long Ma and the spider, which is becoming more and more a symbol of Ottawa, home to Maman,” LaFlamme said.City streets were awash with people, including hundreds of families with young children, to witness Long Ma’s awakening and oscillating movements.While their parents captured the moment with their smartphones and cameras, some of the children appeared apprehensive as the dragon spewed a warm mist from its nostrils and speakers bellowed ominous growling sounds.Others were in awe, including nine-year-old Saul Brown, who said he was amazed by “the attention to details and the movement of the eyes.”“And it’s just huge,” he added as he and his seven-year-old brother Otto watched the dragon head toward the National War Memorial.Dubbed by its creators as “travelling urban theatre,” La Machine’s Ottawa performance was a first for North America.Organizers created an elaborate storyline behind the three-day spectacle, describing Long Ma as “a cosmic creature who is half-horse, half-dragon” from the ninth level of heaven, robbed of its wings from “a sinister force that has taken the form of a giant spider,” Kumo, who was unearthed from deep beneath the city by crews building Ottawa’s new transit line.— Follow @tpedwell on Twitterlast_img

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