Macao SAR, China

The 2,000-seat Dancing Water Theater has been uniquely conceived and designed by Pei Partnership Architects for the world’s largest permanent water-based show, “The House of Dancing Water” at City of Dreams, an integrated entertainment resort in Macao. It contains one of the most impressive commercial pools in the world, holding approximately 3.7 million gallons, equivalent to more than five Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The show itself presents a narrative storyline inspired by Chinese culture and folklore within the vision and interpretation of a Franco Dragone production. The audience will be captivated by an array of performances comprising an international cast of dancers, synchronized swimmers, high divers, motorcycle stuntmen, contortionists, acrobats, and aerialists. The show will incorporate various design elements such as fire, water effects, atmospheric effects (mist, fog, smoke, etc.), and scenic ingredients to create the fantastic world inhabited by the characters and performers of this adventure. The 77-strong cast of international performance artists and 130-strong production and technical members have been recruited from 18 countries around the world.

Taking inspiration from the unique and dynamic characteristics of the Dragone production housed in the theater, the building shall be wrapped in a modulated “skin” that captures the sense of movement so characteristic of the drama unfolding inside. Set at the northeast corner of the City of Dreams development at the intersection of North and East Roads, the theater serves as an anchoring counterbalance for the main water feature at the west entrance.

Inside, the performance space is entered through a grand lobby that connects directly to the adjacent casino retail street and the ballroom level of the adjacent Grand Hyatt Hotel. The 270-degree theater-in-the-round has a central stage with a diameter of approximately 25 meters (82 feet), surrounded by sloped seating on three sides for as many as 2,000 theater patrons including a V.I.P. section of 70 seats. The theater arena boasts a 40-meter-high steel trussed space (30 meters clear) providing generous height to the show’s display of acrobatics.

The interior atmosphere evokes a Chinese forest. A large interior glass curtain wall patterned with a rocky mountain cliff shields the Band and Control rooms. The surrounding Drum Wall curtain envelops the spaces with the image of a vast bamboo thrush. The color red predominates, from the specially designed carpets alluding to fallen bamboo leaves to the seating upholstery and the curved, perforated metal panels that line the perimeter of the arena. Cinnabar leather seats and wood panels lend extra warmth and comfort to the V.I.P. section.

“The House of Dancing Water” premiered in the Dancing Water Theater on 17 September 2010.