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Sixers Dancers China Blog

August 29, 2009

This morning we woke up in China one last time. We met for a quick breakfast, checked out of our hotels, and headed to the Beijing airport.

As we sit here waiting to board the plane, we would like to say a special thank you to the NBA, NBA China, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Relay Group for giving us this tremendous opportunity. We are so grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only to visit China, but to perform as Sixers Dancers and meet our Chinese fans.

We were able to experience a new culture, a new language and delicious new foods! To Allan and Kevin, our kind and informative tour guides, thank you so much for teaching us about the wonderful history and traditions of China.

We would also like to thank Penny, our amazing NBA host in China. Not only was she professional, but extremely welcoming, gracious, and warm-hearted. She devoted her time to us and made us our number one priority every day. She made our trip truly unforgettable and we are so grateful to leave China with a new friend. Wo ai ni China!

As our seating zone was just called, we are about to board the plane with a bittersweet feeling. We are sad to end our incredible journey, but excited to return to our family, friends and Sixers fans! See you soon Philly!

August 28, 2009

Today was our last full day in China and it was very special to us. It started with a quick breakfast in the hotel lobby. We then headed to The Silk Market for some last minute shopping for our families and friends. After that we decided to treat ourselves to massages, manicures, and pedicures. Our host Penny took us to a beautiful spa five minutes from our hotel, where we relaxed and took the opportunity to reflect on our amazing trip.

Next, we went to Piazza Italia where we all enjoyed a quick bite before heading back to the hotel to get ready for our big night. The bus picked us up at 6:00pm and took us to the NBA Basketball Disciple Award Ceremony. When we arrived, we were escorted to our VIP room to rehearse before our performances. Suddenly we were informed that the set for our first dance had been changed so we quickly adjusted our formations.

The show began with Steve Nash, Chris Anderson and us walking the red carpet and posing for photos. We eagerly waited backstage for our first performance, knowing that there were 20 million viewers about to see us. We came on stage to pyrotechnics and smoke and we got a great response from the audience for our first routine, Proud Mary.

During our break between performances we got a chance to watch the awards ceremony from the second row. Our final performance was Boom Boom Pow, which also seemed to be a hit. After taking a few more pictures and handing out autograph cards, we headed to the bus for one last dinner with Penny and Kevin.

We were treated to a wonderful Cantonese style meal. Over dinner we talked about all of the great memories that we will take with us forever. As we headed back to the hotel we said our teary eyed goodbyes to Penny. We then went back to the room to begin packing for our long journey home. Goodnight Sixers fans!

August 27, 2009

We finally got a chance to sleep in today. Unfortunately we slept right through breakfast. We had to hurry to get ready and eat something before we met Kevin and Penny, who were taking us to rehearsal.

Today was the first sunny day since we arrived in China and the nice weather helped us wake up as we traveled to NBA Zhizao Studios, where we were filming several teasers for NBA China. The shoot went very quickly because we are used to filming teasers for the Sixers, but we did have a little trouble learning the Chinese slogans.

Once we finished, we went to the venue where the MengNiu NBA Basketball Disciples awards ceremony was to take place the following night. The theater was outside and the surrounding area of the city was absolutely beautiful. We were given a quick rundown of the show and had a chance to practice each of our routines. Again we were amazed by how accommodating, nice, and friendly everyone was.

On our way back we made another quick stop at the market but hurried home for one last dinner with Penny. At Penny’s request, we ate at the Bellagio Café where we enjoyed authentic Chinese food. We tried several new and familiar dishes, all of which were very delicious. We decided to call it night after dinner so we could rest up for our final day in Beijing and our performance tomorrow night. Nighty night!

August 26, 2009

Chi shi qing kuai le! Today happened to be Chinese Valentine’s Day and we learned how to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” in Chinese. It was also our second day of sightseeing in Beijing. The morning started off with breakfast, exchanging some money and meeting our tour guide Kevin in the lobby.

On the agenda for today were Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. After some background info, we set off for what would be a 2.5-mile walk. It turned out to be a hot day in Beijing (we even saw the sun peak out), so we stopped to try some Chinese ice pops and were greeted by some very excited NBA fans.

After a few pictures, we were off to the Forbidden City. We began by walking through the four gates, and then we danced our way through the six palaces – we even taught our tour guide some moves! We also practiced saying Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone who passed. Our favorite part was the last courtyard that included the Imperial Garden.

After leaving the Forbidden City, we made another shopping trip, this time visiting the Yaxiu Market. This market was a little nicer than the others we visited, but we found we couldn’t bargain quite as much.

After the market we walked across the street and found a Hooters Restaurant, which we thought was funny to find in Beijing, so we decided we had to eat there. The waitresses were all very pretty and very excited to meet us. It turned out that one of the waitresses is a dancer for the Continental Basketball Association! The food was similar to the Hooters at home and probably the best American food we have found so far.

Later, Penny invited us out for a big night on the town to celebrate Chinese Valentine’s Day. We danced, sang karaoke and had a great time experiencing the Beijing nightlife.

August 25, 2009

Today was our first day in Beijing and also our busiest on this trip. Although we woke up to rain again, that didn’t stop us from going out to explore Beijing. After we grabbed a wonderful breakfast in the hotel, Alan took us to a jade factory to learn about jade, China’s most valuable stone. We saw how jade is turned from raw rock in the mountains into a statue or a piece of jewelry. We were also taught how to tell the difference between real and fake jade. After the presentation we were able to walk around the factory and purchase jewelry and gifts for ourselves and our families.

After visiting the jade factory we boarded the bus and headed to the most anticipated part of the trip: The Great Wall of China. We were all very excited to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the only manmade structure that is visible from space. Once we entered and posed for some pictures we started to make our way up the wall. We had two options for walking – the difficult path and the easy path. We decided to challenge ourselves with the difficult path, but quickly discovered that they weren’t kidding when they called it difficult. The steps were very steep and uneven and we had a hard time keeping our balance. Along the way we had to take a quick break to catch our breath and take pictures. Once we reached the top, the view was breathtaking. It was an amazing bonding experience that none of us will ever forget.

Once we left the wall we headed to a restaurant called Old Beijing Noodles for an authentic Chinese lunch. Afterwards, we headed to the Pearl Market to purchase some souvenirs. It was very similar to the market we visited yesterday so we were a little more comfortable with handling the vendors and the crowds. We returned to the hotel after a couple hours and relaxed in our rooms. Later that night we ventured downstairs for dinner, where the restaurant had a live jazz singer who dedicated a song to us. We had a very relaxing night in Beijing and got ready for our next adventurous day.

August 24, 2009

Ni hao! Today we left Xi’an and headed to Beijing. We said our goodbyes to our wonderful guide Allen and boarded the plane. Aside from a little turbulence, the ride was quick and easy. After getting off the plane we rushed to baggage claim and thankfully our bags made it safely to Beijing with us. From there we met our new guide Kevin and headed to our hotel.

Beijing is absolutely beautiful; we were more and more impressed after each building we passed. We arrived at the JW Marriott surrounded by designer stores like Gucci, Fendi and Armani.

After checking into our rooms we freshened up and headed downtown for lunch and an afternoon of shopping. Penny took us to the Silk Market where we were able to purchase lots of fashionable goodies.

After a long day of traveling and shopping we returned to our luxurious hotel for a relaxing dinner and a movie in our rooms. Tomorrow we are visiting the Great Wall. Stay tuned for our next recap of our adventures in China. Zai jian!

August 23, 2009

Today was our last performance in Xi’an. We woke up and had breakfast as usual. We were finally able to perform at all three appearances without any rain delay. We haven’t seen much sunshine yet, but the weather gets better each day.

Today we had our biggest crowd yet. During our first appearance we performed and held a Q & A session with our fans. We then went to KFC for a quick lunch between performances. During our second appearance we were greeted by tons of media. Thankfully we had Penny there to translate. We even shot a teaser for the local news, just like we do back home.

During our final appearance in Xi’an we conducted another autograph session and performed our last three routines. The fans were excited that we brought Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas because here in China it has not been released. We then headed back to the hotel for a quick workout before dinner.

Since it was our last night in Xi’an, we treated ourselves to some delicious sushi at Koi Restaurant. Although we are sad to leave Xi’an, we are very excited to visit Beijing. Our flight leaves tomorrow at 11:30am and we are hoping to arrive to Beijing with all our luggage! We will check in tomorrow. Night-night Sixers fans!

August 22, 2009

Cricket…cricket…cricket….can anyone sleep? We all met for breakfast at 9:30am and shared the same story of tossing and turning all night. Absolutely no one got a full night’s sleep. Erica woke up to Danielle making a pot of steaming hot coffee at 4:00am. Annie slept like a baby, and as soon as Dana heard movement from her bed she yelled out to her, “Annie, I’m so sorry, I can’t sleep!” In Melinda and Kate’s room, Kate had sweet dreams while Melinda counted sheep.

After breakfast, we had down time to prepare for the day’s first performance at 1pm. Once the again the crowd was very enthusiastic to see our smiling faces. Afterwards, Allen guided us to the Xi’an City Wall and told us some of its history while we walked along the wall.

While we were there, Penny received the call of the day: our luggage had finally arrived to our hotel! We rushed to our tour bus and hurried back to the hotel. We were soooo excited yet still anxious because we weren’t sure if it was our luggage that was there, and if all six bags would be there. As the trunk slowly opened, we all screamed in excitement because everything was there.

Once we took our luggage to our rooms, Penny gave us a call and informed us that again the rain had delayed our second performance. We then decided to have lunch together in the lobby.

As we arrived at the venue for our third appearance, we were greeted by hundreds of fans waiting for our autographs. The autograph sessions were truly the most rewarding experience so far during the NBA Jam Van Tour. We tried to greet each fan in Chinese and we found that they had practiced some English for us as well. Everyone was so excited to meet us and we were honored to greet our fans in China.

After our performance we decided to hit the gym in preparation for our upcoming photo shoot. Boy did we burn some calories. From there we quickly showered for our dinner with our hosts.

We were treated to our first Chinese dinner with Penny and Jay from NBA China along with Don and Alex from The Relay Group. It was explained that the Chinese custom is for the host to order for everyone, so we sat back and sampled an assortment of traditional Chinese dishes. We ate everything from sweet and sour pork and Peking duck to dragon fruit. Yes, it was definitely yummy!

It was great to talk to our hosts and learn more about Beijing, the next stop on our tour. Since we didn’t get much sleep last night we quickly headed back to our hotel to prepare for our last performance and day in Xi’an. Cross your fingers for sunshine!

August 21, 2009

As a team, we met in the lobby for a wonderful, complimentary gourmet breakfast at 8:30am. Surprisingly, we were all bright-eyed but unfortunately we were also bushy-haired, due to a lack of hair products and appliances.

From there we took a few minutes to convert our US dollars to local currency and met Allen to head to the local mall in search of personal necessities and items we needed for our afternoon performances.

From there, we came back to the hotel to get ready for our first performance We met in Dana and Annie’s room to walk the lines and make sure we were comfortable with the choreography. Unfortunately, it was canceled due to rain, so we didn’t make our first public appearance until 3pm.

Allen and Penny greeted us in the lobby to escort us to the venue. Upon arrival, we were advised to shut the curtains so that we could surprise the fans with our appearance. As they announced that the Sixers Dancers were approaching the premises, guards interlocked arms to hold back excited fans.

We performed two routines and were introduced to the crowed, with the emcee reading through our profiles in Chinese. We hoped that the emcee added a comical twist to our profiles, because the crowd seemed to be highly amused.

Following our first appearance, Allen took us for a tour through the city to Big Pagoda Square, where we were able to get out of the van and capture a few group photos. We took a short break and returned to the venue for our last performances of the day.

After two routines it began to rain more and more heavily. We were asked if we would prefer to stop the show, but we insisted on continuing due to the warm response from the fans.

Once we finished all three routines, we headed back to the hotel to relax. We decided to take it easy since the time difference began to catch up with us.

Good news: Our bags have been located and just arrived in Beijing. There are no more flights to Xi’an today, so we expect to have them by noon tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for us! Wahn ahn (good night)!

Check back soon for more updates, photos and videos from China! You can also follow our adventure on Twitter!

August 19-20, 2009

On Wednesday, August 19, we left Philadelphia for an exciting trip to China, representing the Sixers on the NBA Jam Van Tour. After 24 hours and three flights, we have arrived safely in Xi’an. However, we experienced a few bumps along the way.

We arrived at Philadelphia International Airport in our bright orange summer jumpsuits, causing travelers to turn their heads and getting some notice from our fans. While waiting for our flight we greeted returning US Army troops, taking a couple minutes to pose for pictures, sign autographs and show our appreciation to those serving our country.

After a short flight to New York’s JFK airport, we stopped for a quick bite to eat. While checking into Air China we met Eric, our ticket agent, who was kind enough to move us forward through the massive line at the security checkpoint. He even hooked us up with upgraded seats – not first class, but close enough (Ed: business class? We’ll never know). We were able to sit 2 to a row of 4 seats, giving us plenty of room to stretch & sleep. Xie xie, Eric!

We had 13 hours in the air to bond, laugh, sleep, and eat some Chinese cuisine. It was not until we arrived in Beijing that we ran into some difficulties. As we patiently waited at baggage claim, with 50 minutes to get through customs and board our connecting flight, we noticed the same bags going around the carousel and realized that our bags were not showing up. Our guide took us to the lost and found but unfortunately they were not there either, so we filed a claim, said our prayers and took off running – by then we had only 10 minutes to get across the airport to board the plane to Xi’an.

Thankfully we made it, sweating and all! We arrived to Xi’an around midnight on Thursday, greeted by our NBA contact, the wonderful Miss Penny, and our tour guide Allen, who guided us to our bus.

En route to our five-star accommodations, Allen showed us some incredible sites, including the Bell Tower and the Xi’an City Wall, which is over 600 years old! We also had time to stop at a local McDonald’s for some yummy American burgers & fries.

From there, we checked into the lovely Sofitel Hotel. We had a quick team meeting to discuss our first day of the NBA Jam Van Tour. Then it was lights out! We went to bed, eager for our first whole day in Xi’an.

Check back soon for more updates, photos and videos from China! You can also follow our adventure on Twitter!