Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Today I took class with Ballett Staatsoper Berlin. Company class was taught by Vladimir Malakov, the director of the company. Most of the dancers were in another class though, because they had an early stage rehearsal. Vladimir was exactly the same as I remember him from New York, and since I always saw him in Nancy Bielsky's class, I wasn't at all surprised that his class was similar. The company doesn't have any contracts at the moment, but who knows about further down the line.

To get to the opera house from my hostel, I took a tram and an underground train. Sometimes buying tickets is really confusing, but in this case a day pass for €6.40 covers all the forms of transportation. The underground took way longer than I expected, and I barely made it to class in time!!!

After class Leslie Krumwiede, the administrator, invited me to see the show tonight, and helped organize a ticket for me at the box office. This particular show is not held at the opera house, but at the Schiller theater, one stop away on the underground. This is the first ballet I'll have ever seen in Europe, and I'm very excited. I'll post my feedback afterwards!

I found a yoga studio near the center of town and took a very challenging class. I think I was struggling because my cold made it difficult to breathe through my nose, but overall I understood more German than the class I took in Dortmund.

Across the street there was a bead store, where they went a step further than I've ever seen with the types of things you can make! It's hard to describe, but I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow when I go back for another yoga class.

I also managed to do a little sightseeing today, in the FREEZING cold I found the Brandenberg gate, Reichstag building, and Holocaust memorial. Here are some photos, but as usual I have to apologize that they're not masterpieces.

I can't wait to report on the ballet!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Paris and Leipzig

And now I'm back on track after having a few days of break in Paris. I didn't take many pictures, but I had a wonderful time. My friend Greg was there, and took me to dinner where i tried escargot and fois gras! Here I am in front of l'Arche de Triomphe.

I also visited Montmartre, which was about as picturesque as anything could possibly be, even the tourists couldn't ruin it! For the rest of the day I had the Amelie soundtrack running through my head.

I was in Leipzig today for an audition, the first city so far with really miserable winter. The audition was ok but I move on tomorrow, to Berlin! I have a little cold but it's not so bad.

Oh, I got my hair cut to above my shoulders in Paris!

Last of Lyon, sent 4 days late

I've really been enjoying Lyon. Class with the company in that glorious studio was amazing, and it was really fun to see the company working. The director wasnt there, so nobody could give me much feedback, although they said he might be interested. I might try to organize another visit later in my trip.

I relocated from the hotel to the hostel, which is up a steep hill and overlooks the whole city. It was worth it for the view alone, although I had trouble sleeping so close to the loud main area, and the bathrooms were pretty awful. It just shows me that I can rely on the reviews online, because that's exactly what they said.

Yesterday was rainy but I finally got to do a little bit of sightseeing. I made a friend Corina who was also visiting Lyon, and we met at the mysterious castle (which is actually a cathedral called Fouviere.) It was massive and beautiful but I think I prefer the view from down the hill.

Walking around yesterday (I was kind of lost to be honest,) I stumbled on a Repetto ballet store. It was like a palace for ballet wear, and it was lovely. Im sure the salesman hated that I was taking pictures, but here you go.

I'm waiting for a train to Paris, where I'll be until Saturday. I'm very excited because I've never been before! It will be a little break in the middle of the trip!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mysterious castle

I should've taken these pictures again in the evening when everything was lit like a magical fairy tale. I'll be sure to do that tomorrow once I've found out what exactly is in that castle, and whether the view from the top of the ferris wheel is any better than the view from that amazing studio. these are questions that will hopefully be answered soon!

Opera National de Lyon

Well, I found myself in the most beautiful studio I've ever seen at the Lyon national opera. This company is amazing and has an incredible repertoire, and all the dancers were really beautiful.

The opera house is an old renovated train station in the center of town, and the ballet is on the top level with a view overlooking the whole city. Can you believe this?? The pictures I took make the space look dark, but it was lit so well with natural light that it felt like you were outside!

I was invited to take class tomorrow and Wednesday, and I got to watch some rehearsal today. They were in the beginning stages of learning a Jiri Kylian piece, which was very interesting and beautiful to watch, and I really wanted to join in!!!

One of the pictures is the opera house through the cafe window where I'm sitting now. Some are from the entrance and outside views, and the rest are from floor 12! The dresses are props from Kylian's "petit mort," although I didn't see that one being rehearsed. I'll check tomorrow which one it was, when I get to take class in this amazing studio!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Arrived in Lyon

I've made it to Lyon (five trains later, but somehow still standing.) I realized along the way that correct grammar aside, I remember enough French grammar to construct sentences, and can read signs and communicate without that Swahili feeling. We'll see how it goes tomorrow, but I got myself from the station to the tram, to the hotel, by speaking only French.

I haven't actually spoken to anyone at the company in Lyon yet, so I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing here. I think mostly I decided it was time to go to France. I have until Thursday to try to organize class with the company. If it doesn't work out, a girl I met in Dortmund suggested some cool places to take class in Paris, right near Bastille and the Moulin Rouge, so that will be fun too.

In the dark I could still see what a beautiful city Lyon is. There are lots of old beautiful buildings, two big canals, and a very mysterious castle up on a hill. I'm very excited to do some exploring tomorrow. And yes, take pictures, which I know have been lacking.

I wrote this waiting for the train in Strasbourg

One way to fry your brain is to take the train from Frankfurt into the very edge of France, Strasbourg to be exact. Then try to ask for a pain au chocolate and a coke, and see if you don't accidentally speak German instead of French.

I'll be in Lyon by tonight, and maybe I'll have adjusted to the language transition by then!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What I did in Mainz

Mainz was fun, although I was a little under the weather, and didn't do much dancing.

I had an amazing meal at a place near the theater, HDW (Haus de deutschen weines) for not a lot of money. I got a huge veal roast, red cabbage, and spaetzle, German noodles. It was delicious. The waiter didn't feel like indulging in meine deutsche zehr schlekt, so he decided to pretend to be French. I wasn't angry though, because he tripped at one point and we both laughed for a long time.

As I was leaving he explained how to get the nearest movie theater, which turned out to be the one I walked past on the walk with Johanna when I first arrived in Mainz. All movies in Germany are dubbed, with no subtitles. I decided to go through with it anyway, and ran into the theater for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Now, I've read the whole trilogy since I left on this trip (thank goodness for the kindle, much less heavy than lots of books.) I was really excited to see the movie, but of course was worried that I wouldn't understand anything in German. It didn't take me long to make a decision about that, and I was very excited about the outcome. Since I knew the story, it was easy for me to follow what was going on, even within the conversations. I knew if somebody was giving a threat, or telling a joke. It was very rare that I had no idea what was going on. And I knew enough German vocabulary, mostly from the language course my dad sent me, to actually understand some of the dialogue.

when the movie was over, I was very satisfied because it felt like I'd seen a movie. I'm not saying I can understand German. Most of the time it still feels like people could be speaking Swahili around me. I'm just saying it felt like I've made some progress. And, the movie was great!!

The audition today in Mainz was uneventful. I wasn't the director's type and was cut almost instantly. The best thing about it was that I've gotten to know some of the other people from seeing them at other auditions. I exchanged some emails and am happy to have made some new friends.

Now I'm back in Frankfurt for the night and traveling to Lyon tomorrow. The TGV was sold out from Paris to Lyon, so I'm taking a longer route that has at least 3 transfers. I'll be traveling all day, but thankfully it doesn't start until noon!

I found a yoga studio that had a 9am class tomorrow morning, so that will be a nice way to start the day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Welcome to Mainz!

Sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them. I was at the train station in Frankfurt waiting for a train to Mainz, about 40 minutes away. I was trying to work a vending machine, and a woman pointed out that it said "out of order." She was a young woman, in her thirties, and she spoke English with an American accent.

She was commuting from Mainz for work, and helped make sure I got on the right train. It turns out that she's the organizer of an English speaking group for people living in Mainz, and they happened to be meeting last night.

From what she described they welcomed newcomers, so I decided to tag along. (she wasnt going to stay because her family was expecting her, but if nobody else showed up, I could at least have some dinner...I was hungry!)

Johanna walked with me from the train station to the restaurant. There were four other people already there, all in their fifties or sixties. They were all so welcoming and happy to see a new face. They told me all about Mainz and suggested things to do, and wanted to hear all about my ballet adventures.

One couple was especially outgoing, and they offered to drive me to my hostel, which was outside of the center of town. I know you're not supposed to accept rides from strangers, but it was like a friend's parents offering me a ride. I've included a picture of them! George Lewis and his wife, whose name I think is Claudia...

Waking up this morning, I saw that I'm right on the Rhine. People last night were telling me that the Rhine separates Mainz and Wiesbaden, an old city that's definitely worth visiting while I'm here.

I'm feeling tired today so I've decided to take the day off from dancing. Later I'll visit the center of town, look at the Gutenberg museum, find a yoga class, and maybe take a quick train to Wiesbaden for dinner.

Can you believe those amazing people I happened to meet??!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Forsythe Company

Its been an amazing two days of watching The Forsythe Company in Frankfurt. I've been taking lots of notes so I don't miss anything!

The company is in the beginning stages of making a new premier. The basic concept that I got from watching is that partners tangle themselves into these incredibly intricate shapes, and then move body parts to change the shape. Then they memorize their pathways, and recreate the sequences on their own, relating to each other and the space in different ways.

Some dancers in the back were watching a video of "bill" improvising, and trying to recreate the sequences, using their instincts for what his intention, or the 'full out' version is supposed to look like. It's a lot of guessing but you'd never know it...they've worked with him for so long that he barely whispers a direction and they know what to do. This section looked more like the ballet forsythe work that I'm familiar with: pointed feet, expansive arms, and fluid coordination.

One of my personal highlights was observing Bill watching the yoga break dancer video (YouTube search: yoga break dancer.) I hadn't spoken to him yet, this was yesterday, but I saw his face light up and I was dying to run over and blurt out: "I love that!! Isn't it the coolest?"

He approached me today, and what followed was a very thrilling talk about my career and future plans. He confirmed that Antwerp would be the best company to work for, a gave a few other useful suggestions. He really took an interest, and I felt on top of the world after he started rehearsing with the dancers again.

Another piece they rehearsed is called 'duo', choreographed in the 90's. Such a cool piece and you can watch it on YouTube: search 'forsythe, duo'

By the end of the day today I was standing up in the back learning some of the improv section, and really studying what the dancers were doing. It was so cool to feel comfortable, and I'm sad that I have to leave soon.

Tomorrow morning is my last class and maybe a little bit more rehearsal before I'm on the road again. Stay tuned to find out where...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Onward to Frankfurt!

I've made the trip to Frankfurt, and unlike Antwerp ---> Dortmund, I made it in record time! It was an ICE high speed train, and I really got to see how fast it went! Well, I didn't exactly see, because it got dark, but I could feel the difference. I think the train covered about four hours worth of distance in under two. Crazy!

I'm excited to be in Frankfurt and can't wait to see Forsythe's company tomorrow. Like I've said before, sometimes finding class to stay in shape is a challenge, so these trips are just as important as the auditions. Also, if I was auditioning every day I'd go completely crazy. Forsythe's company is going to be a huge learning experience too, so depending how it feels, I might stretch it out past the two days I've scheduled so far.

One of the perks of being a girl traveling, especially on week days, is that you can pay a euro or two extra for a female dorm in a hostel, and chances are you'll have the room to yourself. This is a major improvement from last night, where I was with 3 guys who didn't really understand the concept of going to bed before 2 AM.

How am I doing so far with the blog? Not to sound needy, but this traveling can be pretty lonely sometimes, so comments are welcome :)

My dad has informed me that I've been overusing the word "nice" to describe things. I agree that this is a not-so-nice... I mean... BAD habit, so I'll be consciously avoiding this word in the future.

Stay tuned for exciting news about Frankfurt tomorrow!

Saturday, January 14, 2012



happy to report that a few consecutive days in Germany have resulted my increased understanding of the conversations going on around me. I'm not saying I understand every word, far from it. Still, I feel more brave every time go through a conversation to order food...that's all I've had the courage for so far.

My dad sent me a link to a Free German language course through a radio station in Munich, called "deutche, warum nicht?" (German, why not.) I was very satisfied that just by being here, thrown into the culture, I was already at least 3 lessons in.I'm learning basic grammar rules and how to pick out the words I already know.

Yesterday very early I took the train to dusseldorf for class with the company, and it was very nice. I'm not sure if I mentioned, but the dancers in these companies come from all over the world, and the language spoken in class and rehearsal is usually English.

I didn't get to see much of dusseldorf because I got right back on the train, but I could tell from the train that it's a very nice small city.

Back in Dortmund, I took class with the company again, this time at their theater in the center of Dortmund. They're performing a program with a Balanchine piece, rubies; a Benjamin millepied piece, and forsythe's second detail. (for those of you who think that's gibberish, that program is kind of a dancer's dream.) I wish I could see it tonight, but they have the evening off.

Tomorrow is the audition, and them I'm off to Frankfurt! I've been invited to visit Forsythe's company there, to take class and watch rehearsal. This won't be an audition, as it's a very contemporary company that rarely hires, with most of the dancers in their late thirties and forties. But I'm so excited to see the company and watch forsythe work!

After class I stumbled into an outdoor market, that puts Santa Monica's farmers market to shame. Check out the huge platters of dried fruit, sausages, breads, and the list goes on. This is the perfect atmosphere to learn some German, because the signs list what the items are called! Genius!

One final thing...I went to a yoga class where the teacher spoke German the whole time, a totally unreal experience. I could follow along because I've been to plenty of yoga classes, but I had to keep peeking out of the corner of my eye to make sure I was doing the right thing! Eep!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I was just reminded... I called the hostel in Munich to cancel my reservation for Saturday, and spoke to my friend Ingrid.... Van Kleef! We of course remembered each other from last week, and she asked me how the auditioning wa going! It's so funny, I have memories of being jet lagged and out of sorts in Munich, but I really did meet some very nice people!

Kanne ich bitte einen kaffee mit milch haben?

I just officially ordered my first cup of coffee in German! Granted, it was a Starbucks counter, so I guess you could say that I felt more comfortable! Other times I've wanted to say it, but at the last moment I get frazzled and wind up mumbling in English. I'm relieved that I broke the ice, and that nobody laughed at me!

A few more wonderful things about Antwerp before I move on: i found a yoga studio in the "Zuid" area. Notonly did I get to take a great yoga class, but there was plenty of water and spiced tea in cannisters for us to take and no additional charge to borrow a mat. I had the same kind of comforting feeling as I got from taking ballet classes, but with no stress or pressure. It was wonderful!

Just before leaving Antwerp I grabbed a waffle from a stand outside of the station. This waffle was so beyond any other "Belgian" waffle I've ever had. There was sticky caramelized sugar along the top, and this thing needed no additions. It was absolutely perfect.

Yesterday I ventured by train to Dortmund, and the trip was longer than expected because the trains seemed to be having some technical difficulties. Dortmund is very close to Dusseldorf, and about an hour from Koln. For a little while it seemed like i would miss my connection to Dortmund, and instead spend the night in Koln. Luckily there were plenty more trains to Dortmund, and I made it safely to my hostel. This hostel is very nice, and I paid for a 4 person dorm, but the room was empty except for me. It's awfully nice to be able to really spread out for only 14 euros a night!

I took class with Theater Dortmund this morning, a very nice smaller company with a wonderful repertoire and a full year contract, with benefits! A few dancers were very nice and outgoing, but the majority of them stayed clear away from me. I can understand this, it was a very crowded class. I was very impressed with the company.

Tomorrow I have class with the company in Dusseldorf, Ballett am Rhein. I can't cancel my second night at this hostel in Dortmund, so I'm planning on taking a very early train to Dusseldorf to take the 10 AM class. I'm looking forward to it, even though they don't have any openings at the moment. Part of the fun of this trip is getting to experience all of the different companies, in addition to looking for work. So far I'm having a great time!

One reality of the trip is that I can't really afford to be missing class every other day or so while traveling and panning. So far it's going pretty well, but finding class and staying in shape is definitely a priority.

Stay tuned this weekend for Berlin, and hopefully Hamburg by Monday, and Dresden on Wednesday. Of course by now you can see that the plan changes daily, but that's the blueprint.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I've been in Antwerp, Belgium for two days now, and the more time I spend here, the more I love it. It's an old city with beautiful stone buildings and an old-fashioned feel, but there are lots of young people and everyone is really nice.

I stayed with my friend Ludmila and saw another friend Joe, who are both dancers in the company, Royal ballet of Flanders. Yesterday morning Ludmila walked me to the studio to take class with the company. They were going on tour to Luxembourg later that afternoon, so we both had our suitcases with us.

The class was awesome, and I love the company. I'll return in mid-February to see if they have any openings, but I felt very comfortable there, and everyone was so nice.

After I left my friends I stopped by a physical therapy building to ask about a pain in my foot. (it started a few days ago.. Pain in the bottom of my foot from walking so much, not dancing.)
When I went to the clinic, I couldn't believe it...the therapist Ellen looked At the foot, didn't charge me, and said she was heading in the direction of a place to buy running shoes. I couldn't believe it! She actually drove me there!

Today the foot is feeling better already, and I'm still relaxing in Antwerp. I'm about to leave for a yoga class, the first one since New York!

Oh, one more thing.... Last night I had the privilege of eating a huge pot of mussels, one of the many specialties of Antwerp. Please refer to the included picture of the feast.