Monday, May 4, 2015

Embracing Your Past

It has taken me a long time to really understand that my past is just a tool at my disposal. I have felt, and often still feel, that it defines and confines me to a specific genre - a genre that I was never perfect for, and I later tried to move away from.

But every time you move away from something, you realize what parts of the thing you left really are you. You can change in many ways, and learn new things....but they are only adding to the platter. It is actually quite difficult to loose such strongly imprinted patterns, such as years and years of ballet. This may hold you back from learning new techniques at first, with their different coordination and sense of gravity, but over time you will become immersed in new worlds. The cool part is when you start to mix them - the old and the new. Not superficially, but on a fast-switching mechanical level that makes it seem like one seamless style.

I speak here of ballet / gaga vs. floorwork / breakdance. I am not a master of the second form, but my understanding of it has grown greatly over the past three years. Years I spent training POST University, mind you. That's right: I couldn't find what I was looking for in any of my long years of education in the USA...which might be the home of break dance?...(irony intended...)

A pitch to bring schools up-to-date:   Stepping into the Present

I often critique schools for being too narrow, "old-school," or stylized in their specific way. In many ways, this is inevitable and unavoidable. But as one Finnish critic wrote when critiquing that Finnish dance education has become too conceptual, he made point that conceptual is fine, but you should have the OPTION to do other things. And then it is even more powerful when you choose NOT to do them.

This is the point that I would like to make. That approaches to movement in different techniques are very, very different. No one is better than the next. But in this increasingly competitive field, one is expected to be able to do almost anything. And: most of us want to, don't we? Its just fun! Therefore, in any education system, or personal training, it is necessary to find these different technical worlds in a deep understanding, so that later your body has a wider range of possibilities to draw from.

Education systems are often behind the demands of the current professional field. So if you are a dance school director, I would look outside of your walls, and see what your students truly need. The job market you left no longer exists, except as a few preserved, fossilized companies who were lucky to maintain their funding. The style has changed, and the demands on the body and spirit have changed. A "traditional technical foundation" is no longer enough. New traditions have been and are being created right under your very nose.

This is a strong sting to end this post with, but it will be a common theme in articles to come, and is one I strongly believe in.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Blog Re-Start 2015

Its time to re-invigorate this blog.

Since the post-university European travel that started the blog four years ago, I freelanced with very talented and diverse artists in Seattle. As of September 2014, I entered a postgraduate program called SEAD Bodhi Project in Salzburg, Austria. I have been here for the past eight months, creating work with international emerging choreographers. Through the program I have a year visa to study in Europe, tour the works we create, and go to auditions when I can. And most importantly: be surrounded by an international cast of characters that teach and challenge me daily.

I have long had many thoughts about contemporary dance, and dance education. They are constantly shifting, but they remain gathered around a central pulse that always brings me back to Europe. I don't think all the answers are here. But I do think there is a wealth of knowledge and differing perspectives on life and performance that should have a more fluid discourse with their American counterparts. There are many cultural, political, and historical reasons that I'm sure contribute to what I call this "Atlantic Divide." But I am not an ethnographer or anthropologist, and in this blog I will not attempt to be. I will simply offer my experiences, and what they made me think and feel as an American dancer living and working overseas.

In the end, there is no one style, context, or education system that is perfect. Was it not Martha Graham that said being and artist is actually that divine dissatisfaction that drives us forward?

I am led by this dissatisfaction. And I am led to write about it.

I think its about time I start.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hamburg, Sweden, Home....A 2011 Throw-Back from 2015

The last blog post from the trip, which I drafted likely in June/July of 2011...

"I have been back in Seattle for a month now. Hopefully I will remember all the details of the last leg of my trip as they fade. The trip feels almost like a dream, and yet I would not find it strange to wake up in Berlin or Amsterdam or Sweden the next morning. Strange how time is.

"In Hamburg I stayed with my exchange student Jasmin's friend Lea and her family. Lea was incredibly gracious and took very good care of me, despite the cutting into her homework and sleep schedule. They live literally in a village (I did not believe Jasmin when she told me she was from a village). Nutsen (u with two dots) was the name of Lea's village, Jasmin lives in another, and their other friend Laura lives in yet another! The set up is somewhat like our suburbs, but without the centralized, "self sufficient" aspect and more scattered about the countryside. Each village is mostly just houses, with a few horse/cow barns and maybe a pub (yes, that's in on the business end: a pub). Lea's village central store had gone out of business and the had to drive to the slightly large village for all their shopping needs. All the villages are about the size of our small neighborhoods, each house having a decent sized yard but still close to its nrighbors. They are surrounded by farmland, or perhaps I should say the farmland is dotted with villages connected by the train and roadways. If you're not in a hurry (or you're under 17), you can take the train, but for shopping or hanging out the car is preferred. All the young people there seem to long for the city life, but the city isn't too far away (30 min drive, 45-hr train) and I liked the country get away. My exchange student Jasmin agrees with me.

"Over the three lovely days I stayed with Lea's family, I experienced Hamburg on my own, visited Jasmin's family, went to a German disco (in which I witnessed my first glass box "smoking area"...of death), and did some more sight-seeing with Lea and her friend. In my time alone in Hamburg, I walked around the shopping part of Hamburg on my own, and bought a German copy of Rainer Maria Rilke's "letters to a Young Poet" in German, its original language. (This is very advanced, though, so I doubt I'll learn much German from in - I just LOVE the book, any artist MUST read it! (: ) Talked to an old German man in the antique shop about politics, his view on the world etc. 
*note: I later gave this book to my German-speaking American friend at the gym in 2013 as a present. (; Brian, I think you can do more with this than I...and I was happy to give it.

"Visiting Jasmin's parents felt really nice. Lea, Laura and I went to their family house for lunch. Her dad is Italian and we managed to speak to each other in Spanish (I couldn't understand any Italian, but his Spanish is quite good). Her mom I spoke less to because of the language barrier, but her English is better than she lets on. Jasmin looks so much like her! (: We had pizza and posed for some nice group pictures for Jasmin to have later. That evening we went to a new German disco, which was just like any disco, lots of German music etc. Only one room, though - they said normally there are more, and they weren't super excited by the venue. The next day was my tour of Hamburg and I honestly can't remember any of the names of places we went!!! (: Saw lots of Bachelorette parties, though, in this one district with many sex shows/shops etc. Pretty funny, the bride always obvious among the themed groups being the craziest dressed of them all. But they are ALL crazily dressed, and all making lots of noise. Haven't seen anything like it in Seattle! (:

Then it was off to Sweden. I don't remember much about my trip there...except the surprise that the train actually gets on the ferry! For fourty minutes I got to relax and stretch in the open air. Their ferries are like shopping malls, though, and since the dividing lines between countries are in the middle of the water, some things are cheaper depending on if you buy them at the beginning or end of your trip. Pretty silly. Johan (my mom's coworker) met me at the station in Lund, a town just outside Malmo, Sweden. His single-bedroom apartment is very spacious for a thirty year old! Or so I told him. He's all set up to be a professor, which he finds strange. We had a great time together, cooking meals and walking around the town. The university there is spread among the town so you don't know what's what. We got stuck in a hale storm on the tour - ouch! Golf ball sized, or so it seemed. He even put up with my skype-break-up emotions very well (the boyfriend and I are fine now, though, if you are wondering). It was somewhat of an emotion-driven weekend, with lots of eating good Swedish food and candy (I was eating Daimes pretty much constantly). We even had Swedish meatballs the last night I was there! yum...

I stopped in Lund to dance with a company "Skanes Dance Theatre" (an "o" over the a, pronounced "sconya") located in Malmo. Its only about a twenty minute bus ride there. Malmo is a lovely city also, but I will talk mostly about my dancing experience. Skanes was the most pampered company I'd seen so far. They have a massage room and masseuse, weight room, full kitchen, separate dressing rooms and delux showers, two full studios, and even a small theatre. MY dressing room (the one for guest groups) was gigantic, and there were two of them (male, female) located up a spiral staircase. That being said, the company was pretty good with a mix of different training, some more ballet some more "contemporary" (i.e. release and contact stuff). They ranged somewhat in level...."


And that's where I stopped writing this entry, just under four years ago. I thought I might as well publish it, just to have this portion of the blog "complete." What I didn't get to was that after Skänes, I went on to Gothenburg Ballet (GöteborgsOperans Danskompani), took one ballet class with the amazing group of dancers, which I felt very competent and happy inside of. One of of them really inspired me, as he clearly had what I might have called at that time, the "magical European element" of smooth floorwork/breaking technique that he mixed with his ballet, unlike the other clearly classically trained dancers. (This says something about the direction I later took with my work in Seattle). After class, I proceeded to receive false hope that I had potential for this kind of work. The rehearsal director told me I had "very nice musicality and technique," which was encouraging, but in retrospect he did not offer a private audition, only advised me to attend their general audition when I could. It was exciting because the first complement in two months I had received from a high level administrator at any company class....but no matter what people say to you, it doesn't mean it is your destiny. You have to know what you want, and what you are (and are not) meant to do, inside of yourself. I was immediately cut at their audition two years later. And in a similar vein, I was recently told I was "clearly not a classical dancer, but we like how you move" at a German agency audition. So, I guess I've made I big transition in my style and technique since this first European Adventure, which I embarked on just about four years ago. I hope to continue writing about my experiences here, of which I've had many in the last years, and are now continuing in the form of Postgraduate Company at a School in Salzbrug called SEAD (Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance).

In family news, I should mention I went to Stockholm after Göteboge and enjoyed dinners, walks, and coffee with members of my Swedish family there. I dont think I did much but explore the city there...I was a bit depressed and ready do go home. But I have very fond memories of Linnea (my Swedish Grandmother), eating out with her and my first time sleeping at her beautiful old flat; walking the little dog in the woods with Elin; and eating delicious but way too expensive salads/coffee with Agnes. We recently went for Christmas, and two summers before on a family trip, so I feel like I've seen a lot of this city. More on that later. For now: publish!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paris, Lausanne, Holland Again, Hamburg Now

A quick update. I am now in Hamburg visiting my exchange student Jasmin's family and friends. It is sooo great to be in the countryside again! (: Or closer to it at least. Funny story: yesterday at the Hamburg Hbf (mainstation) I asked a woman if she could tell me the meaning of a German news headline in english. She told me, sorry, she only speaks german and SPANISH. No hay problema, I say, hablo espanol. And so I was using my spanish yet again to get around the northern counties. We had a great convo, me trying to keep up with her Spanish, and I ended up going to coffee with her and her friends before meeting Lea and Laura, Jasmin's two wonderful friends. (: The woman was from Cuba and be friends were Colombian and....something else I can#t rememebr! (: Anyways, it just taught me yet again to never be afraid to ask questions - you never know where it will lead you.

I left off in London, right before my trip to Paris. My friend William set me up with his family just outside Paris. They were so, so wonderful! I had a great time eating lunch with them, and trying to teach his younger sisters english (which turned into a wrestling match instead because I don't know any french and they know little english - so fun! (:). I also met up with my friend Kazuma who arrived in Paris the same day as me. He and I were at the same audition in Amsterdam, and his friend Yurika put me up Easter weekend when all the hostels were full in amsterdam, so nice of her! (I realize I haven't written about this yet, hopefully I will in a few weeks). Anyways, he is a great contact imporoviser, and performer as well! We had fun together (it is seriously impossible not to have fun with this kid) and ended up improvising in front of the Eifel tower. I am reletively inexperienced at contact, so it was really good practice for me.
Side note, did anyone else know that the Eifel Tower lights up like fire flies in the evening? This was cool the first time, but after it happened every hour of every evening, it was less impressive...
Paris is a beautiful city that I want to explore when I have more time. For those few days it was just enjoying gardens, sun and friends, which was wonderful as well. I was going to visit a company I thought was in town, but I realized it was just the director, not the company. No worries, it was a great time anyways....
The sky in Paris literally feels bigger, I swear!!! And people Really don't speak english, but I found quite a few people helpful and friendly even thought we could hardly communicate. I would really like to learn some french when i get home.... (along with german dutch etc etc...)

My next stop was Lausanne Switzerland. This was my vacation and vacation it was. Beautiful moutains stark against the giant lake. Lausanne is on a hill, so from the cathedral or park you can see far and it is so lovely. My first day there I ended up dancing in a parade with a huge back of Brazillians for carneval, and swimming in Lake Lau on a whim. The next few days were just relaxing and seeing the city with friends, making fendu in the hostel (thank you Paulo!!!!) and dancing a little at a local studio to get ready for the weekend.

After those four days I took the train to Amsterdam over night. Didn't sleep so well in the couchett, but my Australian room mates were really nice. Or were they from New Zealand? Anyhow....I arrived over-tired and stumbled to my friend Tony's appartment. He is a musician I met on the train from Amsterdam to Brussels on my way to London. So nice to put me up! I went to dance class that day, saw a friend for dinner, and the improvised with Tony (him playing piano, me dancing) til 2 am!!! Ah, sleep deprivation...anyways, those two days in Amsterdam were fun and it was good to be in an artistic space.

For the weekend I traveled to Rotterdam for an apprenticeship audition with Dance Works Rotterdam. We'll just say the audition killed me - seven hours of very physical dancing, including some jumping off a vault, parkour type stuff. Anyways, they were only really looking for people in school, but I thought I did fine (although not my best since I was a bit tired). I again stumbled to a friend's appartment, a guy I met at Scapino. We went to see NDT perform. They were good, but I didn't like the rep so much. Kylian#s new stuff is cool, but I don't really dig the old stuff. The next day was again relaxing, enjoying italian food, ice cream, biking etc.

I found my way back to Amsterdam early Monday morning to take class. I stayed for a final hurrah in the original hostel the Shelter Jordan. It was geat to see everyone again and I will miss them a lot!!! Although maybe I will see some of them in the USA. And now here I am in Hamburg, arived yesterday, taking my time resting up - I pushed myself a lot this week in class, and I don't think I rested enough after the audition (I kept gong to bed late and getting up early).

Next stop is Sweden for dancing, friends and family! I have started dreaming about home, so I think its a sign. Can't wait to see everyone there, but will also miss everyone here.
All my love,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rewind: Rotterdam...

...but first, Tulips
I thought I would miss out on the tulip feilds in the Skagit Valley north of Seattle, but luckily I found myself in a land known for the flower! (and apparently importing from my home valley??...) A train and bus ride to Keurkenhof on a Friday afternoon. Alice in Wonderland awaited me - I didn't even make it through half the park, it was a maze! And it was aMAZing...but also exhausting. The flowers were lovely, but I almost couldn't enjoy them there were so many other distractions. Bush mazes, play structures, farm animals of all kinds, multiple lakes, food and souvenir shops, giant chess felt like every two minutes I was in a new room, themed yellow, blue, red, square, queens court, horse head portrait on and on....a river of blue flowers running through the whole thing. But I got to smell flowers, take far too many photos of flowers, sleep in the sun, and feel a little connected to my home for a few hours....I missed my sister! (:

Rotterdam Rocks:
Every time I get to this entry I am too tired to write anymore! Well, as you can tell by the title, I had a surprisingly good time in this modern city that is like a European America (or an American Europe?) with all its new buildings and shopping malls...apparently well known for its contemporary architecture as well. I learned this from the two architecture students I stayed with. They were lovely Brazilian girls studying abroad in Spain, on break for a week. So they were doing homework on break! (but actually not, just loving their subject and wanting to see it in action). We three stayed in a seven bed hostel dorm with a spiral staircase up to two of the beds! It was in the famous "cubes," so the walls were slanted at cool angles. Its a Stay Okay hostel - I recommend it, but ask to stay on the third floor, otherwise its loud and boring (I ended up on the first floor the next few nights) - vs. quiet and super cool architecture.

I have to terminate this entry now, but my week was basically: open class with Dance Works Rotterdam (whose audition is in a week), two days with Scapino ballet, one day at Dance Altiers (spelling? open class studio), watching a show by Conny Jansen Danst that evening was AMAZING, then the next day a bus trip with Dance Works Rotterdam to Nijmegen to watch their show, followed by a late night train back to Amsterdam for an audition with Compagnie Zappala Danza of Italy (probably spelled wrong). And after that the saga of not finding housing in Amsterdam on the celebratory, sunny, touristy Easter weekend....but somehow I am alive, here, and met more friends! (:

More detail to come, possibly in some weeks time as I am off to who knows where!!!

Check out my Berlin photos on facebook - more coming!

I'm Behind...So a bit more on London, and where I'm off to next: Paris & Switzerland

I know, I'm behind on my blog! (Yes Lori, I heard this from you through the grapevine, i.e., my mother...) (:

It is my last evening in London. I've spent just over a week here, and accomplished little dance-wise (a four day holiday really doesn't help, nor does little sleep and a slightly strained shoulder) but had some good times. At first I really wasn't into London - I was overwhelmed my its size, business, and relative coldness/awkwardness of its people. Basically it was a shock coming from little Amsterdam, where I met lots of great people from all over the place (so I guess I can't claim anything about the Dutch openness vs. not), could walk anywhere, beautiful canals etc. However, London has grown on me. I'm not sure if its "my" city (I STILL never know which way to look for cars, very confusing), but I could see living here if need be. I didn't get a great feel for the dance scene because, well, I didn't really take class with professionals, but I have a feeling the dancing may be imbued with some of the daily "Britishness" that I have grown to love only from a distance (yes, that was not a positive comment...). It is also extermely expensive here - most things cost the same, but its POUNDS i.e. 1.7 US - almost double. And everything is different - the money, the plug outlets, the side of the street you drive on...that's all well and good, but I like how the rest of Europe operates on the same page, creating a relatively united feeling - Britain just doesn't really feel European. However, I haven't been to more than two other European countries, so what can I say. I apologize for my rambling, but I have little time to fix it!

But on to the POSITIVES. The area between the Tate Modern Museum next to the New Globe Theatre and St. Pauls Cathedral and surrounding is really lovely. The River Thames runs down the middle and you can really experience it by walking out onto the Millenium footbridge, which is relatively new. I actually saw a bridge VERY similar to this one, also connected to a museum, in a dream of mine some months to a year ago. Weird that I remember it (yes, I remember many dreams, which makes reality confusing at times). When I was standing under this bridge the dream image/feeling was just so vivid! Anyways, tangent. I didn't look at the art in the Tate, but the building itself is really interesting - large open space with sun coming through the windows in a lovely fashion. Their doing some building of a new section that should be interesting.

Then there is the Globe Theatre. I literally almost cried when I walked inside, I have such a love for its history and for theatre and for all the stories I've heard about it.... 5 pounds for "groundlings" tickets. I was standing the whole time, but WAY cool - elbows on the stage in the action, actors talking to you and almost hitting you with their swords - it adds some risk, which we need more of in our lives - we are far too safe, its almost like not living at all. At the old globe, there would have been pickpockets, and someone would have stolen my casually placed purse for sure; there would have been drunken fights in the crowd, it would have smelled, there would have been pigs blood squirting (although this was a romance, "All's Well that Ends Well"). It would have been a hard life, but somehow more enlivened and exciting. However, later that day I almost got myself hit by a motorcycle trying to find London Bridge Underground station, and though it was a rush, I am rather happy I don't come so close to death and difficulty every single day....

This area is also filled with parks - starting from around St. Pauls and extending beyond. Especially at the end of the day, this is a dreamy area where, well, dreamers like me can get lost in thought, musings, writing, postcards, photos, smelling flowers, eating/drinking chocolate and so on....London isn't all that bed, eh? (:

I planned to go to Barcelona next, but it is just too tight. I have to be in Rotterdam next weekend and though I could get TO Barcelona, returning was a problem. So, I booked a train from Paris to Switzerland! Lausanne is my first stop, next to Lake Geneva. I just want to be in a beautiful place, and hopefully dance some to prep for the audition, and I think Switzerland offers this. It is also near my Marblemount neighbor, Corina Salen's, family in South Germany (well, relatively close). I don't know if I'll make it there, but it would be great to see the origins of this lovely woman.

I leave for Paris in the morning and stay for two nights. My friend William Parry's family is graciously putting me up - he insisted on asking them and arranged it all for me (partly for language barrier reasons, but he is also a gentleman). I plan to see a show in Paris, though currently it says it is sold out, and hopefully just experience the city. Someone I met at the Zappala (Italian) audition in Amsterdam will be there also, so I can hang out with him too. Then its a morning train to Lausanne and who knows what in the land of the Franc.

I hope you are all well in the many places you are living: Seattle, San Francisco, Europe etc. To my San Francisco class: I sent a letter in the mail and hopefully it gets there for graduation! Just a post card, but it should arrive at Adam and Rachael's apartment within the week.

Much love from this dreamer in wonderland,


Friday, April 29, 2011

Germany and Amsterdam

Hello everyone! My, it has been a long time since I've written, I have so much to cover! I was told my last post was a bit "Tolstoyan" (i.e. quite long) and this one probably wont be any different. However, I will break it up into different posts as as there is just so much.

Where I am now: I am in London on the Kate and Will's wedding day! (Unintentionally, and I'm missing Queens day with friends in Amsterdam...) I didn't make it to the wedding route between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, but I did watch the ceremony on the BBC over pancakes (for me) and eggs (for Kindall) with strawberries, melons, tomatoes, olives, bread and cheese! Her one room apartment actually feels very confortably sized even though its quite small.

Where I left off: My last post was written in Berlin before my one day adventure to Braunschweig Wednesday and the Tanztheater Kassel audition Friday. I have since been in Holland: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and sweet little Nijmegen. Lots of adventures, including my most recent almost-trip to Brussels/Gent when I bought a ticket to London that was one day later than I intended! (I was able to change it, but missed out on partying with some PhD music students in Belgium).

The following will have dance and daily life intermingled. I'll put some basic dance info at the bottom for those of you that want a fast review of the companies and studios I've visited/know about.

Back to the Beginning: Goodbye Germany
  • Braunschweig: I got up far earlier than necessary to catch a 1.5 hr train to this medium-sized town West of Berlin. However, had I not done this I would have missed the train all together. I made an epic number of mistakes getting TO the Berlin Hauptbanhof (Main Station) and then was confused for fifteen minutes while I was there. Train Stations are large and its hard to know which train you are supposed to catch because they only list the end destination. You really need to just go to an info desk and ask, which in Germany is a red "DB" sign (Deutsche Bahn), which I didn't realize til the last minute. I had two minutes before the train was supposed to leave when I finally got my pass validated and got on.
    • The class was ballet, even though the company is more modern (read Corina's blog "Dance for the King of Spain" for more info on this). The company is entirely new as of August 2010, with a new Artistic Choreographer/Director also (Jan Pusch).The dancers goofed around a lot in class, and many sat out before the end. Its the end/middle of the season so they're a bit tired and just trying to get warm. Ballet was evitently not their stong point, so I wish I cold have seen them doing modern. I felt a little awkward, like I was too trained/bun-head-ish. I have been trying to strip this away through the rest of the trip. 
    • I actually have a friend in the company from San Francisco Conservatory so it was really great to see him! Jared Marks, beautiful dancer. He took me out to coffee afterwards and showed me around the cute little town! Also gave me the rundown on what its like to work in the well-payed but beurocratic Staatstheater system. He said that though it was a decent first job, he wants to do some smaller project work. The company is doing a children's piece right now and Jan Pusch has only set old pieces on them, not created new work. As a dancer I think we all crave to be part of the creative process. This was a good perspective to hear - in the end we should be choosey, even if at first we all just want a job with decent pay.
    • I made my way home on the train and wa sback in Berlin for dinner - one day travel on my eurail pass that woudl have cost 80 euros!
  • Tanztheatre Kassel Audition: Two days later  back in Berlin I made my way to an old factory the Wedding offshoot of the studio Kreutsberg-based studio Tanzfabrik (Wedding and Kreutsberg are regions of Berlin). About 60 people in the audition, crashing into each other during a warm up that was almost entirely floorwork. REALLY good class, though - very acrobatic as Europe has proven time and time again to be. I was picking up combos poorly and again felt too trained - not grounded enough. I was sure they would cut me, but they didn't. Then came the rep, two Americans in his company teaching it. They are doing a traveling show that I would see the following day, and that the rep was from. It was somewhat theatrical and very physical, with motions taken from every day life turned into dance, and sound affects through the mouth. I felt good about it, but of course things are always the opposite of what they seems and they cut me. Kept some people that surprised me. Johannes Weiland, the director/choreographer, told us all that he would give us individual feedback if we wanted. He was very calm and open, with large half-closed eyes. He told me that I was just a little (and only a little) too presentational for what he wanted. Maybe performative, not sure the work he used. He siad he felt I could do the movement well, though. This was good advice, and I realize here they don't want presentation like we are taught in the U.S. (see my articles I want to write in the entry following this one). A good first cattle-call audition. I liked doing the work, but I was not impressed by his show. I've heard the company is better from a friend, but the two performers didn't feel genuine to me - they felt exactly what he told me not to be! Too presentational/performative. But se la vi. I would definitely audition for him again, and I think I would enjoy the work. They invited us to come visit the company also, which I may do later in my trip.
  • Berlin Nights: after watching the Kassel show, I ended up in a nearby studio chanting in Sanskrit and dancing for the end of a meditation (can't remember the official name of the gathering - certain kind of yoga). Two girls from London and I were invited in when people saw us lookign through the window. It was a nice feeling, and the band said they might even travel to Seattle/Portland! (: I went home and got ready to go out with Lea, the cousin of my host sister Olga who is my age. (I met her at a house party in which the parents were up dancign and drinking till 1:00 am in the morning!!!) We went out to a bar with her friends, and then out dancing. I was up til 5 am!!! This is normal - my host family expected this of me when I first got there so I was glad to finally oblige! (: It was nice to come home and hear the birds start chirping, a little tipsy from two Becks beers and rockin out in a basement club to 80s/90s music.

Hello Holland! So much in Store:
  • Upon crossing the border, Holland felt different. It was a subtle difference, and maybe it was just my excitement at seeing a new place, but I had a relaxed, warm feeling wash over me with the sunshine coming in through the tain window. (sunshine that is rare in Holland, but accompanies me for my two weeks there!) I zoomed by expansive farmland dotted with baby lambs, and criss-crossed by dikes and water bodies (much of Holland is arficicial and below sea level, for those of you who don't know). My heart is in Holland right now.
  • Arrival in Amsterdam: I arrived and it was hot. I managed to figure out how to charge my ov-chipkart (which makes transport much cheaper) lent to me by a dancer in Berlin orginally from Greece. I will send it back to him by post soon. There is little underground in the city center (unless you are going far), so mostly trams are used. I found my way to the hostel called the "Shelter Jordaan" in the residential, relatively quiet Jordaan district. I was greated by Josh Oh of Colorado - Hello Josh I miss you! This was only the beginning of meeting yound friendly hostel volunteers from around the globe at a hostel that would feel just a little like home. I became their "forever guest" as I just kept coming back over the week. I arrived during hostel dinner and they invited me to eat with them (5 euros for a hostel meal - pretty cheep and tastey). I proceeded to meet the cleaners (clean for free room and board) and former cleaners that stop by to visit with friends. One of the former cleaners - Marcio of Brazil/Barcelona - showed me around the city that evening. Our first stop: the Albert Hein Grocery store (which is everywhere) for Stroopwafel - the classic Dutch sweet of two thin waffles slapped together with syrup. Delicious!!!! I ate four in a row. We ate them warmed over a cup of tea. After that it was the red light distract, which I am NOT okay with because it is so unbalanced - only women on display and no men, same old same old. But the canals lined with lights were beautiful!!! A great first evening in a new place.
  • The following day I went ot HJS (Henrsy J S something...its the main studio in Amsterdam). There they have open classes with teachers that rotate by the week. Took ballet and then contemporary. Liked both, but I wasn't connecting well with the contemporary teacher. I liked his movement, but his combinations were so long and complex and he used the same words to describe everything that I felt I couldn't get into the movement and try out the concepts he presented. I took classe there for the week, ran one day and walked around the other, hung out with new found friends at the hostel, but other than that not much dance stuff. Luckily I was pretty well set up for Rotterdam the following week...
  • More was to come when I returned to Amsterdam the weekend after my trip to Rotterdam. I really like the Amsterdam, with all its bycicles and canals, people carrying kids or groceries in the front bike box, a lover/friend sitting on the back bike rack. I did the later once, sitting on the back while my firned cycled me around the city. No helmet, bruisin my butt and workin my abs to stay on through the crazy traffic, but so fun! You see a lot on a bike. If I lived here I would definitely get one. Also if I lived here I might consider living outside the city in a cute town called Monnickendam, but that is a story for later....
More to come, I will finish later. I'm heading out to have dinner with a friend that lives in London, but was originally from France (William Perry for those of you who know him). Up next: Tulips and Rotterdam Rocks