My Close Encounter with a Dragon

Celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the nation’s capital, Ottawa put on some amazing events. One of the most attended and enjoyed event was the theatrical extravaganza of La Machine. La Machine is a street theatre company founded in 1999 in Nantes, France and led by François Delarozière. It came about thanks to artists, technicians and theatre designers working together for the construction of unusual theatre objects.

Ottawa welcomed two gigantic creatures, Long Ma, the dragon, and Kumo the spider. Kumo was created in 2008 for a show called Les Mécaniques Savantes. The DragonHorse Long Ma was created as part of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Franco-Chinese relations. The five-day event started with the giant spider Kumo perched on top of an old cathedral in downtown Ottawa. Kumo awoke to live classical music and slowly descended to the ground amidst light and special effects that mesmerized the very large crowds. Meanwhile, some city blocks away, the Dragon Long Ma woke to a second massive crowd. The creatures walked about downtown giving onlookers many opportunities to see these magnificent creatures brought to life. Many individuals are needed to make these creatures come to life. Even though we can see them quite clearly as the creatures moved about, one quickly forgot about the handlers and just let one’s imagination take over.

The story was based on the fact Kumo had stolen Long Ma’s wings and the battle between the two produced epic moments for onlookers. I attended the second night’s event, where Kumo and Long Ma encountered each other amidst dramatic live music, fire, steam, and lighting effects. The crowds were immense and navigating closer to the creatures took quite a while and I finally was able to position myself in front of the crowd, ready to photograph the dragon.

My first pictures were taken at a fair distance as Long Ma left city hall to undertake its search for Kumo.

I walked down the bridge stairs and managed to position myself perfectly for the close encounter that would momentarily make me forget the creature was mechanical!
It was obvious to those who observed both creatures that the operators and choreographers of the show had studied the movements of real spiders and horses. The very deliberate movements made the onlookers believe that both creatures were alive and real. Both Long Ma and Kumo moved slowly, allowing spectators to walk beside them. The music played by musicians on various platforms added the drama to the storyline.
I waited patiently as the dragon slowly crept towards where I stood. As it approached, I was taken aback by its size and beauty. At one point, the dragon was close enough for me to reach out and touch it.
Long Ma, La Machine, dragon, street theater
 As it turned away from me and headed towards the spider, it let out a burst of steam – little droplets of water cascaded over us as I managed to take one more action photo.
moonlight Long Ma, dragon, La Machine, street theater
A few days later I headed to the Supreme Court grounds where both creatures were settled in for a rest. During the previous evening’s battle, the dragon was able to get back his beautiful wings. When we approached Long Ma we could hear it softly snore and every so often steam would seep out its nostrils. I spent quite some time looking at the details of the creation. Even the long eyelashes added a dimension of reality to its mechanical body.
Long Ma at rest, dragon, La Machine, street theater
As my first encounter with a dragon, I must admit it was a magical experience.

apptraveler

Retired exec consultant who traveled for more than 4 decades, both corporate and leisure. I appreciate my travel experience and want to share tips, photos and stories with readers! I live in Ottawa Canada and have traveled to 31 countries.

22 thoughts on “My Close Encounter with a Dragon

  • September 13, 2017 at 12:47 pm
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    WOW! That’s amazing! I love dragons. This would have been amazing to see!

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    • September 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm
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      Natasha, thank you for your comments. I really like dragons as well, and it was quite amazing to be part of such an event!

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  • September 13, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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    I can see it is a giant dragon they have put up. It seems you enjoyed being there. I am usually scared at places that are too crowded.

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    • September 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm
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      Hi Anu, thanks for your comments. It was quite crowded, but in Canada, we seem to have very polite people so even when it was crowded, it was very civil and polite! That helped!

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  • September 13, 2017 at 1:19 pm
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    Thats really cool. I can’t even imagine the work that went into building the dragons. When I look at the pictures closely there are just so many little details.

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    • September 13, 2017 at 4:44 pm
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      Sarah, thanks for your comments. When I did have a chance to see it resting, ie, away from the crowds, I was able to truly look at it in detail. Can’t imagine the making of – surely, it would make for a great documentary!

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  • September 13, 2017 at 1:37 pm
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    How interesting, I never knew the history behind this and now I do. Great read.

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    • September 13, 2017 at 4:43 pm
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      Hi Nerissa, Thanks for your comments – glad the background info gave it context.

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  • September 13, 2017 at 2:39 pm
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    This looks SO cool! What a neat experience. My brother would love something like this.

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    • September 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm
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      Hi Christine, it was very cool – to say the least. THanks for your comments

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  • September 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm
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    Haha, this is so cool!! I would love to experience something like this. It’s incredible how far artists will go! I love it, thanks for sharing.

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    • September 13, 2017 at 4:41 pm
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      Hi Selam, It was quite the experience to be so close! Thanks for your comments

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  • September 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm
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    How neat! Looks so enormous. I imagine in person it had to be pretty spectacular!

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    • September 13, 2017 at 4:55 pm
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      Hi Kristi, thanks for your comments. It was a giant piece of art, that is sure! It was even more imposing at night, since we couldn’t see the operators. It was quite the experience!

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  • September 14, 2017 at 12:37 am
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    Wow, that looks amazing! I love huge displays like that.

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    • September 14, 2017 at 5:45 pm
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      Hi Tara, I wish the photos would have really shown scale – hard to really appreciate the size until close to it! Thanks for your comments

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  • September 14, 2017 at 11:15 am
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    I love the intricate detaling of the dragon. I can only imagine how tedious it is to build and operate one of these!

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    • September 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm
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      Hi Jasmine, I was quite impressed with the level of details, and my favorite was the eyelashes! Thanks for your comments

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  • September 14, 2017 at 12:34 pm
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    It looks so much fun and as a great experience. Love the pictures too.

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    • September 14, 2017 at 5:43 pm
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      Thanks for your comments – I’m glad you liked the photos.

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  • September 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm
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    Wow! This looks amazing and your shots are fantastic…dragons, even in make believe, have always fascinated me. Something majestic about them, and beautiful, of course.

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    • September 15, 2017 at 12:28 pm
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      Hi Sierra, thanks for your comments. I was so lucky to be able to get to the front of the crowd – make it easy for me to get those up front shots! Dragons are amazing (even if they are not real!)

      Reply

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