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L'International des Feux Loto-Québec 2008
Montréal International Fireworks Competition Report

Korea Shall we Dance? July 5th, 2008

Hanwha Corporation - designed Soo-Won Uhm Pyrodigital firing; Show Director choreography; ~2200 cues

Montréal, Friday, July 4, 2008 - Twenty years after its grandiose opening of the Seoul Olympics, the Korean firm Hanwha Corporation extends an invitation to Montrealers, asking them "Shall we dance?" So, Montrealers should slip on their most comfortable shoes and be on their toes! Come Saturday night, be ready to move to the beat of the cancan, tango, disco, farandole, and even traditional Korean music. And all in the space of the 30 minutes it takes for this third show of the year at the International des Feux Loto-Québec presented by TELUS.

Founded in 1952 as the Korea Explosive Corporation, the conglomerate added a fireworks division in 1964 when the arms race was starting back up just after the Korean War. Today, Hanwha stands out as the country’s fireworks leader. Its achievements include remarkable participation at the 2005 APEC summit in Pusan, South Korea.

On Saturday, during "Shall we dance?" Hanwha Corporation will only be declaring war on boredom with its fireworks that "dance" to the program’s music. As director Cheol-Woong Lee remarked, each shell is carefully paired to the most appropriate piece of music. Interestingly enough, fire master Soo-Won Uhm studied oriental painting before becoming the company’s designer in 2003. Inspiration for her works comes from her experience as an artist.

Perfect summer weather greeted the return of the Korean team, absent since 1994 where their last entry was, to be polite, underwhelming. However, seeing the setup, with literally hundreds of cakes and the deployment of ramp 5 gave hope that this display would rise to the challenge, especially with the well chosen sound track. A capacity audience in the new grandstands at La Ronde were in store for a festive evening.

Part 1 to music Lord of The Dance by Ronan Hardiman. The display opened with a volley of salutes after a second countdown and then gerbs opened up on ramp 5 with shells of gentle go-getters above. These continued for some time and were followed by fast Z cakes of blue stars bursting to small clusters. Above these, shells of stars as more cakes of small gold comets fired below. Fans of crossed crackling comets were followed by a barrage of mines of titanium salute terminated silver comets. These were followed by Z-cakes of crackling bombettes augmented by shells of stars above. Next, cakes of fans of bright red stars followed by volleys of shells above. These were followed by sequenced meteor comet shots and then shells of star tipped willow comets. Then a return to the bright red star cakes with shells of red crossettes above. This theme continued and then changed to green continuing to the end of the segment and closing with a front of crossed mines to cheers from the crowd.

Part 2 to music Por una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel. Single star shots started at the left and then increased one by one until the full width of ramp three was in play. Then the same thing but from right to left. Next, shells of waving silver comets (not quite go-getters). As the shells continued, sequenced fans of star shots fired across ramp three below with a move to shells of strobes above. Then a volley of comet shells turning to strobes and a thick fan of silver comets and a broader fan of the same behind and below. This sequence became a theme and continued until the end of the segment, with a couple of shells firing after the music had stopped.

Part 3 to music Maria Elena by Xavier Cugot. Candles of tourbillons with crossette candles behind opened this segment. Above these, shells of crossettes. Then cakes of fans of serpents with blue bombettes and shells of small spinners above. These were followed by bow-tie shaped shells bursts with flame projectors on ramp three below. This theme continued and was followed by ring shells with twinkling pistils with blue bombettes bursting to crackle below. This theme continued but with shells of rings and starfish crackling comets, bringing the segment to a close with a volley of these and a front of flame projectors below.

Part 4 to music Dancing Queen by Abba. Fast sequences of meteor comets in red, blue and green groups fired up from ramp three forming a curtain of colour. Then the same colours in star mines and back to the comet sequence. Then volleys of shells of the same colours above. Fronts of comets then alternated with shells followed by three groups of fronts of glitter mines from left to right as the shells continued above. Then the same thing from right to left as barrages of larger shells burst above. Z-cakes of stars then fired up as the barrages continued with the fronts of glitter mines in three groups coming in from time to time, bringing the segment to a close, again with a couple of shells firing after the music stopped.

Part 5 to music La Danza: Tarantella by Gioacchino Antonio Rossini. Fabulous short duration gerbs danced left, right and up across ramp 5 to cheers from the audience. Then fast fans of cakes of silver comets followed immediately by gold glitter comets and then a fronts of angled mines of salute terminate stars - first outwards and then inwards. The dancing gerbs returned and then sequences of thick comets going through all angles across ramp 3 and then fans of strobing comets. These were followed by star-terminated willow comet shells and then the fronts of angled salute-terminated star mines. The comet themes repeated and then fans of pale turquoise stars and then fans of thick silver comets. Back to the dancing gerbs and the comet sequences, the segment coming to a close to barrages of salute-terminated star mines and a volley of shells above to cheers from the audience.

Part 6 to music Can Can by Jacob Offenbach. Coloured flame projectors lit up in sequence across ramp 3 and some gerbs danced across ramp five and then dazzling cakes of stars fired up from ramp 2 causing gasps from the audience. Mine sequences danced across ramp 3 with the notes and then very wide fans of stars danced across ramp 2. As the music got into full swing, a strangely dim sequence of kamuros with trunks fired in fans from the middle of ramp 2. This dim sequence continued, causing some to speculate that there might be a technical problem. This kamuro sequence continued and then eventually brighter shells at a higher level came into play. Finally as the music was reaching a climax dazzling cakes of silver crossette comets opened up across ramp two as barrages of shells fired above, the segment coming to a close with a large volley and a front of mines of tourbillons and crossed comets below.

Part 7 to music Shall we Dance? by Gizelle D'Cole and Pilar Montenegro. Shots of clusters of crossette stars fired up and at angles and then elegent Z-cakes criss-crossed across ramp 2 to the music. Then shells of crossettes fired above these and were followed by broad fans of comets below with shells above synchronized to the drums of the music. This theme continued and then larger shells turning to twinkles and shells of stars with comet pistils. These were followed by volleys of shells of shaped bursts in the form of six pointed stars and then large shells of comets turning to stars. V-shaped mines of stars fired in sequences of 3 as the lyric said "one two three". Then shells of crossettes. Large "peacock" fan cakes with willow comets and bright stars fired up across ramp 2 and were followed by shells of popping clusters of stars. Broad fans of silver comets fired below as shells of star-tipped gold comets fired above, the segment coming to a close with the launch of a front of crossette mines as the music ended ready for:

Part 8 to music A Thousand Cranes by Bang-Ean Yang. The crossette mines opened and were followed by shells of the same above with some shells of go-getters too. Then large shells of comets turning to stars which were followed by dense fans of bright gold kamuro mines on ramp 2, giving a very Asian feel to the display. This theme continued until the end of this very serene segment as shells of wavy comets burst above.

Part 9 to music Fly Up by Bang-Ean Yang. This began with volleys of shells of silver strobes. This continued and was augmented by larger shells of faster strobes and shells of blue falling stars. Then the crowd gasped as two large waterfalls came to life on either side of ramp 4, reflecting perfectly in the lake. Shells of horse tails then burst gently above, causing me to shout out "Ken, these are for you" recalling my friend Ken Shafer's comments during Sunny's display in 2004. The waterfall continued to burn as more horsetails serenely burst into the sky followed by a return to silver strobes and large shells of silver comets, the strobes continuing until the end of the segment.

Part 10 to music Field Dance by Jung-Ho Lee. Barrages of shells of crackle burst at mid level and were augmented by shells of strobing comets above. Then sequences of silver crackling mines paraded across ramp 3 as the shells of strobing comets continued above, the segment coming to somewhat of an abrupt end with a front of mines.

Part 11 to music Carmen: Habanera by Georges Bizet. Kaleidoscope bombettesof gold glitter comets at a low level were augmented by slow gold strobes above. These were followed by broad fans of crackling comets on ramp 2 with shells of slow falling comets above. This theme continued and was followed by ring shells with strobing comet pistils and then dazzling crossed star shots below. This theme repeated a few times and then cakes of screaming whistles rose into the air followed by a front of dazzling star shots with a volley of large shells above, bringing the segment to a close.

Part 12 to music Carmen: Farandole by Georges Bizet. The penultimate segment began with shells of slow falling comets. These were then augmented by vertical cakes of blue stars and V cakes of gold glitter. Star shells then burst above as very bright cakes of dazzling blue stars fired at angles below as large blue shells continued above. These were followed by charcoal comet shells turning to stars. Next, shells of stars building in intensity with the music. Below these, Z-cakes of crackling bombettes, the segment coming to a close with huge shells of stars and starfish comets and crossed crackling comet shots below, to cheers from the crowd.

Part 13 to music 1812 Overture by Pietor Illyich Tchaikovsky. Z-cakes of deep blue stars bursting to gold bombettes opened the final segment. Kamuro shells then started to fill the air, some with blue pistils, the fronds trailing to the lake. Crossed thick gold comets fired below as the kamuros continued above. As the music built in intensity, the barrages of shells increased and then massive fans of dense gold opened up across ramp 2 below. The pace increased with thunderous barrages of kamuros and fans, increasing yet more and then an incredible launch of nautical mines took everyone by surprise as the lake was filled with huge spoutings of bright gold glitter comets, to thunderous cheers from the audience. The Korean team received a well deserved standing ovation from the capacity audience.

This was an excellent display from the Korean team, made all the more remarkable by the fact that they'd had to redesign it three times due to their shipment of shells being unable to arrive in Montreal, as well as their backup supplier. At the last minute, they were able to buy shells from the local Montreal company Ampleman and thus had a third redesign of their show. The quality of the low-level pieces was exceptional, with the over 400 cakes used to great effect. The lake, which appeared to have been omitted in the design of the display, save for the wonderful dancing gerbs on ramp 5, burst to life in the final apotheosis, to the great delight of the audience. The display was well choreographed and there was an enjoyable choice of music with a good range of tempo. Synchronization was excellent and used to good effect, particularly the gerb sequences. There were a couple of moments where shells kept firing after the music stopped and there were also a couple of dead sequences, particularly in the Can Can, though this may have just been unfortunate due to the selection of shells used. All in all, an excellent display which is definitely a contender for a Jupiter.


Thanks to the public relations people of La Ronde for the official press release material, shown in white.