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Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo: Talent comes from every corner of globe

The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo enters its middle age in a big way this week, celebrating its 40th anniversary with one of its splashiest shows yet.

Running from now until July 2 at Scotiabank Centre, the annual pageant of pomp and circumstance Monday afternoon held a sneak preview of a handful of the dozens of acts taking part, with a mix of military musical precision, graceful dance, impressive acrobatics, and rock and roll South Pacific-style on the ukulele.

“Even if you’ve seen the Tattoo before, you’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said the show’s executive producer, Jennie King, noting this was the first time the event has featured performers from every continent, including a surprise from the Antarctic. Many of them will take to the streets of Halifax and beyond for the 2018 Tattoo Festival from Wednesday through Sunday, with events along the Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts, Grand Parade, Victoria Park, Citadel Hill and, on Canada Day eve, along Portland Street.

On Canada Day, the Tattoo takes over the Halifax Common starting at 11 a.m. with live music, the Skyhawks skydiving team, Tattoos & Trucks with tactical vehicles and food trucks, and family activities.

Inside the arena, the United States 2d Marine Division Band combined brisk brass and precision marching as it performed a medley including Star Wars’ Imperial March (a.k.a. Darth Vader’s Theme) and The Stars and Stripes Forever, the graceful floating movements and athletic leaps of Russia’s Nalmes State Dancers, and the slashing swords of Jordan’s Royal Circassian Honour Guard.

Impressive visually as well as athletically were the human pyramids, towers and other geometric shapes formed by Kenya’s Simba Zambezi Acrobats, who have been touring around the world for the past 20 years. Victor Owesi, an 11-year veteran of the troupe who’s been training since childhood, said events like theTattoo are a chance for his troupe to see the world and give people from all nations an example of their homeland’s talent.

“Our routines are inspired by our African culture and our bigger brothers who are longtime acrobats, who have passed along their skill from generation to generation,” said Owesi after the performance. “And they encouraged us to pass them along to younger generations, too.”

Making good on its promise to bring talent from every corner of the globe, in addition to Nova Scotia favourites like Heather Rankin and the Royal Canadian Navy’s Stadacona Band, the Tattoo augments the Canadian Armed Forces’ own Massed Pipes & Drums — with members from several military units — with Sydney, Australia’s Scots College Pipes & Drums and the Singapore Police Force Band.

“I enjoy travelling all around the world, seeing so many parts of the world, and meeting with all the bagpipers and exchanging pointers. It’s a very special opportunity to be invited to come to Nova Scotia,” said Singapore piper Senior Staff Sgt. Nurdyana Fadzlina Angelyn Ong, who is making new friends among the sizable community of fellow musicians backstage at the Tattoo. “I hope to pick up some new tunes while we’re here. Before we came here, we had to learn and memorize around 20 new songs for the trip and as part of the massed pipe band.”

The preview’s dose of Canadian talent came from British Columbia’s Langely Ukulele Ensemble, which was originally inspired by Halifax instructorJ. Chalmers Doane’s program in the 1970s. Currently under the direction of Paul Luongo, the group of 20 junior high and high school studentswas able to fill the arena with the humble soundof the uke, and afterwards entertained listenerswith an impromptu medley

of Another One Bites the Dust, Superstition and Uptown Funk.

After the Tattoo, and free Tattoo Festival performances around Halifax, the Langley Ukuleles head to Hawaii and the Stratford Summer Music Festival, which makes for a typical summer for the talented youths.

“The kids are getting great opportunities and experiences, and I’m continuously reminding them they may never get to play in front of a sold-out arena like they will here now,” said Luongo.

“We really are thankful for these kinds of opportunities, our kids do enjoy them very much.”

Tickets for the 2018 Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, with its themes of Heroes & Legends, the Battle of the Atlantic and Women in Service, are available at the Ticket Atlantic box office (902-451-1221 or ticketatlantic. com) and Atlantic Superstores. For a schedule of free Tattoo Festival and Canada Day weekend events, visit nstattoo.ca/ festival.