iLuminate News – Malaysia Residency

After closing at New World Stages Theater in New York City in January of 2014, We moved onto our next great endeavor.  After months of preparation in training some new recruits and creating to visual effects, we were sent flight skipping ahead 12 hours of Eastern Standard time and settled into the Genting International Showroom Theater located at Resorts World Genting Highlands in Malaysia.  The resort rests on top of a mountain (about the same elevation as Denver, CO) very close to the country’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur where we’re both lived and performed for the last three months.


Our daily work commute on the Genting Highlands SkyWay

We stayed at the most secluded hotel on the property and we couldn’t have been happier!  It was about 15 minutes down the mountain from the main hotel which is where our theater is and all the main tourist attractions.  Our hotel had open corridors, windows and terraces allowing the cool breeze to filter through or the rain drops to sprinkle in or the salamanders to skitter across your path.  The centerpiece of our lobby was a pond garden with bamboo trees, small fish and little water falls.  When we came home from the show each night we would have a sense of relief that is comparable to being in Times Square and then taking the train to Battery Park where it’s quiet and serene and not over-populated with people.  Speaking of transportation … one of the coolest amenities at this Genting Resort is the SkyWay: a gondola lift that is attached to a single cable.  Everyday we were transported through the clouds and could see the surrounding mountains from breath-taking heights.


The “Artist of Light” show has underwent a few changes since our last run in both choreography and technology. The stage at Resorts World Genting stage was about two times bigger than before and the house can hold upwards of 1,000 people.  This greatly impacted the sensory experience of the show by expanding the performance atmosphere.  The volume of the audience ebbs and flows depending if it’s a holiday or not, but all in all, they kept growing in size.  In general, the people were very polite—sometimes we didn’t hear a peep or a round of applause until the final bow.  Their quietness made us believe that they might not have liked our performance but that theory was always dispelled.  They would tell us that they LOVED the show but in their culture they usually don’t cheer on.  So in the performance aspect, that was been our biggest cultural education.


We’re a mixed cast of new and old.  Half of us are brand new to iLuminate while the other half took some part in the Off-Broadway show and works prior.  We each come from a different dance background and different levels of education, training and professional experience.  We’re like a melting pot in the best possible way!  We gather together on stage two hours before each show to warm up.  While we each take care of our bodies in their own unique ways, we’ve adapted to one another’s style.  The best example of this is when we make a “cypher”.  A cypher occurs when everyone stands in a circle and people go in one at a time and dance.  In this circle we keep our creativity alive by observing the one in the middle and by challenging oneself to share his or her own individual talent.  That’s the physical part.  The mental preparation is shared by communal support and the help of our technical team.  With the adaptation of the show and the fact that we were working at a higher level of elevation than in NYC, this show requires outstanding endurance and will power!


The Bandwagon came to show us their moves!

We’ve did a lot of socializing through many promotional events where we’ve met lots of local dancers.  A group from Singapore called THE BANDWAGON drove 6 hours just to see our show.  We had a special Q&A and then jammed with everyone at their private party, which you can see in their highlight video.  Some other events we did included a night club performance, rehearsing and directing a special dance for the Genting staff  and appearing in local media interviews.  We’ve made many great memories!


We even managed to travel around Malaysia on some of our days off, which made for some of the best memories bonding with cast-mates and growing familiar with the local culture. A unanimous favorite were  the days we rode scooters around various islands.  Motor bikes and mopeds are a very common way to  travel about in rural places.  There were a few minor wipe outs and learning to drive on the left side of the  road was tricky at first, but soon we were like children who graduated from training wheels on a bicycle: we didn’t want to stop!  Our smiles still shine from the memories of riding around Pulau Langkawi and Pulau Penang, islands off the western peninsula of Malaysia.


Near the end of our stay, we didn’t have time for travel adventures.  Instead, we focused on maintaining our health and strength for the remaining shows.  We settled quite comfortably into our daily routines in the Highlands.  We made friends with the hotel staff and have grown to love some local foods.  Nothing however is quite like home, it’s feels great to be back with friends and family in New York. Till our next iLuminate adventure!

~Alessandra Marconi