How Different Cultures are Visually Represented in EPCOT’s Harmonious
We’ve hardly hidden the fact over the past year that we’ve got a soft spot in our hearts for EPCOT’s new nighttime show Harmonious. This production is nothing short of a visual spectacle that was unveiled for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary on October 1st and runs nightly at the theme park.
The central theme of the show is our shared humanity and the power of Disney music to unite us as one global community. Disney assembled musical artists from around the globe to reinterpret classic Disney songs in new ways that would honor the respective cultures of the musicians!.
In addition to the incredible music of the show, the production is also a visual tour de force and draws artistic inspiration from diverse cultures represented in each sequence throughout the show. . Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways that this is evidenced in this extraordinary show.
After the opening sequence, it’s off to the Middle East with Aladdin and the beloved song “Arabian Nights.” During this vignette, the imagery is inspired by Arabic calligraphy and geometric designs.
As we move on to music from The Jungle Book you’ll want to be on the lookout for traditional Indian shadow puppets. These were actually handcrafted for the show by a mutli-generational family of Tholu Bommalata artists from India.
Next we move on to the song “Reflection” from the film Mulan which is accompanied by Chinese ink painting. These were made by a graphic artist from China. Motion capture techniques were also used to give a sense of movement and bring the martial arts scenes from the film to life!
The same applies to the the Mexican folk dancers in the Coco sequence, for which original art of Mexican sugar skulls was also provided by Pixar Animation Studios artist Ana Ramirez.
One of our favorite segment of Harmonious features songs from The Lion King which are visualized in images that drawn their inspiration from the art of African textile making.
As we move on to the European sequence, the vignette has the look of stained glass which is a tip-of-the-hat to the famous Rose Window of Notre Dame cathedral.
Scotland is visually represented by rich woven tapestries in the Brave section of Harmonious and is accompanied by the song “Touch the Sky” from the film.
Then it’s down to the bayou with “Dig a Little Deeper” which is performed in a Gospel-influenced North American sequence. The images in this scene were actually inspired by the work of Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas who also inspired the actual film The Princess and the Frog.
When it came to developing the visuals from Harmonious, Disney LIVE Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering partnered up along with a wide range of cultural consultants and artists to bring this production to life. Some of those involved includes National Museum of African Art, Kentucky Center of International Programs as well as advisors representing each of the cultures and countries depicted in the show.
To find out more about this incredible production be sure to check out the Harmonious episode of Disney+ series Disney Insider and be sure to make checking out the show a priority during your next Disney visit!
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Here at MickeyBlog, we also recommend that you follow along with Imagineer @thezachriddley on Instagram (see above.) His Instagram feed is an absolute treasure trove of incredible information about EPCOT’s epic transformation!
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