Music and balance on a Venetian canal
Ruby Chan, Dora Cheung
Eight Young Post Junior Reporters went to the Venetian-Macau to learn about life as a performer. They met a gondolier, street performers and members of the cast of Disney on Ice. Here are their stories.
The gondola is a traditional, flat-bottomed rowing boat from Venice in Italy. Gondolas are hand-made using eight different types of wood. The left side of the gondola is longer than the right side. This prevents it from turning to the left.
The person who rows a gondola is called a gondolier. For our 50-minute gondolier lesson, I was in Rocco's group. Rocco is a nice Italian man who patiently taught us how to be a gondolier. At first, I thought being a gondolier would be easy. I didn't think we'd need experience - it looks so simple.
But after trying to stand up and control the gondola, I found I had no control at all! Rocco reminded me to face the bow, or the front, and row with a forward stroke, followed by a compensating backward stroke. Slowly I managed to make the gondola move.
After that, we sat down and enjoyed the lovely Macau scenery. Rocco then taught us an Italian song. It was hard for me to remember how to pronounce the Italian words. But Rocco was not annoyed. Finally, he sang us the famous song Santa Lucia, which was the perfect ending to our lesson.
It was a perfect day for a leisurely ride through the Marco Polo canal, aboard a beautifully crafted Venetian gondola. The fact we learned about a gondolier's job made it even better.
The gondolier first politely helps passengers to get on board. Then, standing at the back, he starts to row in the Venetian style: that is, standing at the back of the boat and singing.
Rocco is one of the gondoliers at the Venetian. He has worked there for three months and taught us the skills.
To keep the gondola moving smoothly and in the right direction, gondoliers have to use a steady rate of energy to control the oar. Their wrists have to be powerful yet flexible to move the gondola across the lake. It is not an easy job and your hands get tired quickly.
But Rocco really likes it. 'I took a week to learn to control the gondola,' he says. 'It is an enjoyable and special job - I have different experiences every day.'
Rocco, who once sung in concerts in Italy, also taught us the Italian song Santa Lucia. His voice was tender and struck a deep chord.
Going on a gondola ride takes you around the impressive and spectacular scenery of the Venetian. If you get the chance to ride a gondola, take it. It is a truly a marvellous experience.