Edinburgh Tattoo launch: East Meets West

The Shetland Fiddlers. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Shetland Fiddlers. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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STAGED under the banner of “East Meets West”, there was a fresh feel to an old favourite as 1200 performers delivered a sneak preview of the Festival’s annual military spectacle.

More than 150 Chinese performers, including the military band of the People’s Liberation Army, joined a 12-strong troupe of Indian dancers – who created a special Bollywood-inspired song and dance sequence drawn from Asian groups across Scotland, including hits from the soundtrack of Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire – on the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle for the Royal Military Tattoo.

This year’s show is part of a year-long cultural exchange between the UK and China, with some of the acts said to have taken years to secure. It is hoped long-term relationships have been established to secure more Indian and Chinese acts in future.

Making their first appearance during last night’s preview were the musicians and dancers of the Changxing Lotus Dragon Folklore Group.

Other debut acts included the official ceremonial guard of the United States Air Force, while the Royal Air Force helped honoure the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Organisers said they were confident more than a billion people will see footage of the event for the first time – five years ahead of schedule.

Speaking earlier this week, the Tattoo’s chief executive, Brigadier David Allfrey said the 90-minute show would bring together “traditional allies” and “new friends” this month.

He added: “The BBC broadcast that is filmed each year can get up to 300 million viewers in any given year. However, this year we have particular interest from the NHK network, which broadcasts across Japan, China Central Television from Beijing, and the Indian broadcaster Doordarshan.

“We have had some great conversations with all three of them, which are outside the BBC’s usual worldwide licensing arrangement.

“If they all happen I think we will definitely get more than a billion TV viewers over the next year. I had set a target of 2020 to achieve that but I’m hoping we will hit that a lot earlier.”

Pop queen Taylor Swift was also honoured during last night’s preview – along with soul superstar Martha Reeves.

Swift inspired a spectacular dance sequence set to her smash hit Shake it Off.

Dancing in the Street by Motown legend Reeves also made an appearance.

newsen@edinburghnews.com