Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2011 Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo: July 1-8, 2011

I find it very odd, actually. I hear on a weekly basis that "there's nothing exciting to do in Halifax," or that someone wished they lived in Montreal where things were more exciting. Nothing exciting to do? Once a year the largest indoor show in the world, consisting of a cast and crew of over 17 000 people, comes to Halifax for an entire week.

Despite this, I have met numerous people who have lived in Halifax for years but have never managed to travel downtown to see this world-class exhibition - the second largest military Tattoo festival in the world. Not EP Dave though, I said last year that I would come back every single year, and today I'm happy to say I have still kept that promise.

This year, the organizers made a fair number of changes. The theme seemed to be a musical one, instead of a Navy centred show (last year was the 100th Anniversary of the Canada Navy), and the show was shortened half an hour to be more accommodating to any children in the audience (it was still over 2 and a half hours).

One of my favourite events - the military obstacle race - was back again though, thankfully. This year teams from the air force, army, and navy took turns competing against each other for bragging rights, and a trophy of some kind the name of which I've long since forgotten.

(Remember to plug your ears during the explosion parts. Oh, what's that? You watched the video before you read this warning? Oh well, look on the bright side: next time it won't matter because you'll be deaf.)

In the interest of saving upload room, I made a few highlight videos this year to give you a taste of what you missed. They are by no means to be considered a comprehensive collection of all the performances, nor should you read too much into my inclusion or exclusion of any performances or performers. I basically only took a few videos, because my arm would have dropped off otherwise and I would have run out of room on my tiny camera, and then I edited them together crudely. Please don't feel slighted if I didn't mention you or your favourite group.

This first video features some of the more artistic components of the Tattoo. You'll see the Acadien dance troupe, La Baie en Joie, with Maggie and Cassie Macdonald from Halifax, Gym Wheel from Germany, Rullest Precision Roller Skating Team from Estonia (sorry about the quick title on this one), and Garde Rupublicaine Motorcycle Team from France.

The Macdonald sisters are actually world renowned musicians and dancers in their own right, and I'm pleased to say Maggie Macdonald personally taught me how to Cape Breton step dance back in January.

Also, one of the members of the Estonian roller skate team told me after the show that this was their first ever exhibition performance. Before this year's Tattoo they had only performed in competitions.

This second highlight video features highlights from some of the more acrobatic and gymnastic performances at the Tattoo. There were many great teams in attendance, but I chose two of my favourite: Talentholdet from Denmark, and Henriette and Carla Hochdorfer with guest, Dominik Lange, from Germany.

And of course, for those of you who just can't get enough bagpipes, there was the fantastic as always, finale march.

(Talentholdet messes around after the show and I sneak some photos in with the stars. The girl on my right is 15 years old. She's been training since she was 1. The next time you say, "I wish I could do back flips like her," be prepared to dedicate 14 years of your life to the cause. There's no such thing as an overnight success.)

(The Hochdorfer sisters and Dominik looked lonely so I came over to raise their spirits. See how awed and honoured they are to have me on their bicycle? That's how generous I am. I'm always willing to rub my butt on other people's things.)

(Unfortunately the girl being lifted up fell down and broke her leg after that picture was taken, so I had to fill in as the newest member of Rullest. It's a good thing I look good in a skirt.)

(I wish we had these things in school growing up... I can't see any reason why I shouldn't have been allowed to roll around on this. I bet my mother could, though. Then again she also didn't want me playing with sharp knives either.)

(Nobody gets away from the long arm of the Dave.)


  1. You crack me up and your bum....
    Did the girl really break her leg after you took her picture?
    I want one of those 'hamster wheels' now. That looks like fun :)

  2. Actually, now that I think about it, I think maybe she didn't break her leg... or fall.

  3. Really with a show such as this Tattoo, and I speak from experience, I saw it four out of the eight times...we need to tell a comprehensive story. I travelled from Australia, which is quite literally the other side of the world, along with the OzScot Highland Dancing Team. They performed three times each show, plus the Finale` and no mention at all??? Also the amazing Marching Drill Team from New Zealand. Yes, it is a great show, even better than your review indicated.

  4. Thank you for your comment 202809. I didn't want to diminish the role of OzScot in any way, or any of the other groups. I simply didn't have any video or photos of them, so I didn't add it to the narrative. With a show this large, there's really no way for me to do it justice in one blog post. Everyone should check out the Tattoo's website at to see a full list of the performers and a write up of them along with a video. My apologies if you felt slighted in any way. That was not my intention.

  5. I've just read this :) I've missed the Tattoo for 6 months now, I was a tattoo dancer, in 2 acts one with the OzScots! Everyone in the show was very lovely! I know that Talentholdet is coming again in 2013, but I am not sure about any of the other groups. I'm good friends with the Rullest group, so I can tell you, if you ever want to get them a present, they REALLY like Starbucks! :)