TOUR BLOG -- by Rachel Turner (Errant Movement artistic director)
I will be posting updates here about my time on tour as a dancer with Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company We will be in France, Belgium, Germany, and India.
10/28: WEEK ONE
So I guess I will attempt to start this blog about my adventures on tour. We have been in Roubaix now for four days and have settled into a nice routine. The dance studio is less than a five minute walk from our apartment, and I am loving the walking commute life. Our apartment is lovely – there are currently nine of us here (though it will get busier as others arrive next week). We have five rooms, and I am sharing a room with one other dancer. We share a kitchen, dining room, and TV room. We have been preparing our own breakfast and lunch and doing dinners as a group, which has been a lot of fun.
We took over a whole row at the airport in Dulles with the 8 of us and all of our bags. There was originally a man we did not know next to us, but we scared him away.
Le Colisée is a large auditorium in Roubaix. Our studios are in the same building and both are run by Centre Choreographique Nacional, who is hosting our residency.
Let’s start back a few days ago. On Monday, we left DC at around 6pm out of Dulles. The flight to Brussels was not too awful. I only slept for three hours maybe, spent about two hours attempting to sleep, and spent the other two hours watching a movie. Once we landed in Brussels, customs and retrieving baggage was pretty painless. We rented cars to get to Roubaix. Getting out of the airport area was the hardest part – we managed to immediately turn down a narrow dead end alleyway. The radio station we found was playing in English: 80s pop. That definitely helped keep us awake and led to some great singing. The rest of the day (at this point it was Tuesday, which was super confusing to our jetlagged brains) was spent touring the studios and unpacking and napping and getting groceries.
Wednesday was our first real day – we had the first of three workshops with a group of local teenagers. It was a group of 10 girls who are all part of a social center in Roubaix. They are on their school break (every two months, they have a two week break), and our workshops were part of a program to give them some things to do during the day, since they come from not-well-off family situations and are not exposed to the arts. I was the first to teach and did my best to give commands in French (they spoke very little English). I said a lot of “suivez-moi!” (follow me), but I proudly managed to name most of the body parts we used during our isolations. Another dancers picked up after me and taught the girls some hip hop; some were a bit shy, but they had a fun time. After they left, we had our own rehearsal for two hours, an hour lunch break, and then another three hours of rehearsal. The walkable distance between the studio and our apartment is so nice: a few of us walked home for lunch, and I made a delicious sandwich with some of the fresh vegetables I had gotten from the store.
A cute view of Roubaix from my bedroom window of our apartment.
Our dining room and our first meal on Tuesday!
After rehearsal, I accompanied two others to the big grocery store. I caused a back up in the express line and assumed I was a silly American doing something wrong, but it turned out the cashier did not know that he needed to have be insert not swipe my chip card, a familiar subject of confusion back home as well. That evening we made a meal to share of chicken, rice, and teriyaki vegetables. This was of course accompanied by baguettes and wine.
Thursday we had another day of workshop in the morning with the students, who have warmed up to us much more. One of our dancers taught a musical theater/jazz class and did a routine to “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” which is one of my favorite songs to dance to. The students loved it! Again, the rest of the day was in rehearsal – 2 hours before lunch, and 2.5 hours after. Our meal this evening was pasta made by our very own Italian guest dancer. I now have official Italian approval that using store tomato sauce is okay as long as it is Barilla.
Some of the dancers learning French from an Ipad app.
Helen Marie teaching a musical theater workshop.
Today I was quite tired after not being able to sleep until 3am and then waking up early to make a cross-time-zone phone call, and then making the error of going back to sleep again for just an hour. I had to rush to the studio but needed to stop and get breakfast. I was on my own to speak French! I went to the corner shop we went to on our first day and asked the worker in rushed French for my pain raisin. He immediately smiled and knew I was not French, but then asked if I was from Italy or Spain – so at least I sounded like another European speaking French? It may also be because there are not many tourists who come to Roubaix, especially from America. He was very nice, and we chatted in broken French. He told me about his family in Algeria, asked me pointedly whether I supported Clinton or Trump (he was relieved by my answer), and talked about how big America is. In addition to my inexpensive pain raisin, he gave me an Algerian pastry and offered coffee. I was quite confused when he handed me back more money than I had given him for my pastry, but he pointed me to the coffee machine which took coins. I think because there are not many people who come to visit, we have found that many people are very welcoming and intrigued by us – my coffee the day before had also been bought for me by a random man in the coffeeshop. The machine perplexed me greatly, and I kept asking for une tasse (a cup), and the man kept saying they had them. He kept chatting, and I was worried about being late to rehearsal, but I didn’t want to bother him too much to get the cup quickly since he was buying me the coffee. He finally came around and pushed the button on the machine for me, at which point I realized that the cup comes out of the machine! It was delicious, and I’m glad I know where I can get a good cup of 1 euro coffee to go.
I made it to the studio just in time for our last workshop with the students to begin. Today we did a modern class and combination with them. In the last thirty minutes, we had the students create their own movements – and they did awesome! One of the girls I was working with incorporated some moves from her Senegalese dance classes, and another pair of girls added some movements from Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” We put the modern combination together with their creations and the hip-hop combination from Tuesday and the musical theater combination from Wednesday. It was great to see how much they had learned. After taking a variety of selfies with the students, we had to get back into our own rehearsing.
We got out early for the day – at 4:30 instead of 5:45 – which was convenient since a group of us wanted to go into Lille for dinner. Lille was so charming and beautiful! We walked around for about 45 minutes just looking at the lovely building facades and cafes. We ate dinner at a French restaurant, which was so delicious. After a full heavy meal of classic northern French cuisine, we were stuffed but could not say no to the amazing dessert options. I opted for crepes avec chocolat chaud and was not disappointed.
We have rehearsal at 9:30am tomorrow, and then I am voyaging to Amsterdam for a whirlwind trip (I'll actually be on a Megabus... I'm crossing my fingers that it is better than the ones in the United States). I’ll surely have lots to share from that trip and the continuation of our residency in Roubaix!
Crepe avec chocolat chaud
10/28: WEEK TWO
I’m back for another blog update about my 22 hours in Amsterdam and our second week of rehearsals.
After a nice day of rehearsal Saturday (at a different studio since our usual studio was closed), I was excited to head to Amsterdam. I took the metro to Lille and then got on a OUI bus leaving at 7:30. It was such a great bus! Comfy seats, I got to sit alone, wifi worked, and they even left on time and subsequently arrived – gasp – early! As soon as I got off the bus at Amsterdam Sloterdijk station, I immediately saw rows and rows of racks of bikes. It coul have been almost a thousand. How someone would find their bike amongst the crammed rows is still beyond me.
I purchased a metro card and hopped on a train that would take me across the city to where my hostel was located. It was very confusing to find the train, and I managed to get on without swiping my card and paying. When I got off the train, my card was rejected at the exit turnstile, and I was worried that my lack of paying entry fare was going to keep me trapped! Luckily a young girl who, based on her very clear American-sounding English, seemed to be an exchange student came and told me that the card needed to have a minimum amount on it to work. So I had to put money on the card only to be charged $0 to exit.
I found my hostel and checked in and trudged up multiple narrow flights of stairs to reach my dorm room. The hostel was… well it was a hostel, and it was fine for one night. The beds were small and uncomfortable, and as far as I could tell in my brief time there, there was one tiny single stall bathroom for a whole floor of maximum 32 residents. There must have been a shower somewhere, I would hope. I dropped off my bag and ventured out (at about 11:30pm) to find something to eat! The hostel was on Linnaustraat outside of the city center, so there was not much, but after rejecting a few late night deli spots, I found a lovely bar that had food! I got some food and a beer and sat outside on the small patio and relaxed. I headed back to my hostel and got to sleep by about 1am.
I woke up at 8:30am ready to explore the city and use all my time. I rented a bike – the last one at the rental place next to my hostel. I started by biking in the general direction of the center of the city. I realized quickly that Amsterdam is smaller than I thought – when I checked where I was after about 20 minutes, I was back on the other side of city near the train station that I came into. I oriented my self a bit and found my way to Jordaan, the neighborhood near the Anne Frank house. I parked my bike and got a pastry and coffee from a bakery and walked along a canal while eating. Next up, I biked randomly a bit more. I found the Anne Frank House, but did not go inside since the line was already overwhelming. I stopped by the Tulip Museum and a few small shops nearby. Then, I biked to Bloemenmarkt, the flower market. I was severely disappointed to find that they sold flower bulbs for the most part, so it was not quite the spectacle that I imagined.
I met up with another DC dancer who was in the area for a quick coffee before heading to a contemporary/floorwork dance class at Amsterdam Dance Centre. It was so exciting to get to take a dance class in another city – luckily the class was in English for the most part! It was an intimate group of seven, and the class was really enjoyable, featuring both exercises and combination incorporating lots of floorwork. I was glad to get to connect with the dance teacher over conversation for a bit after class.
I met up with Dakshina’s stage manager, who had also trekked to Amsterdam for the weekend, at the Van Gogh museum. We explored that and then went through the cheesy, but fun, tour at House of Bols that ended with an included yummy cocktail. We parted ways so that I could see the Banksy exhibit (and Warhol) at the nearby Moco Museum, which was very cool. The museum was in essentially a large house, and the exhibits were small (just taking up the main floor and basement of the place) but I enjoyed it a lot.
I set out on my bicycle one last time to ride around the vast Vondelpark. I returned my bike, and by this point was pretty exhausted, so I sat down to eat and read at a café. I still had time to kill, so I decided that walking three miles to the train station would be scenic and interesting. It was not. Exhausted, I made it to my bus in time. This time, I was on FlixBus, BUT this trip was operated by Megabus. They offered exactly what I have come to expect from Megabus: delayed departure, uncomfortable seats, and non-functional wifi. The bus had many stops, and it was quite an adventure. At one stop, a passenger forgot to get off, so there were not enough seats and the bus driver told us “you better pay attention to your stops, or I’ll have to come up there!!” In his frazzled state, he proceeded to leave the next station with the luggage compartment wide open, setting the whole top level of the bus into a shouting frenzy. We eventually made it back (only 30 minutes late) and quickly found a cab in Lille back to Roubaix. It was a great but exhausting quick trip to Amsterdam!
Luckily, I did not have rehearsal until 12:30 the on Monday, so I was able to sleep in. It was a fairly light day of rehearsals after that for me, which was helpful. That night we had pasta with cauliflower and breadcrumbs prepared by our resident Italian dancer. Tuesday was another typical day of rehearsals, even though it was a holiday in France. Because a lot of things were closed, we were unable to get a group meal together, so we ordered pizza! Not just pizza, but Domino’s pizza!
Wednesday was exciting because the first of more dancers would be arriving to join us! Miguel, who had danced with us over the summer, arrived in the morning to Brussels and was able to get an earlier train to Lille, BUT once in Lille, he was sent on a train to Charles de Gaulle in Paris instead of Charles de Gaulle – Roubaix station!!! He amended the situation and came back but was somehow sent BACK to Paris on another train. Once there, he had to wait around for a train back to Lille (where we told him to just stay put so we could safely retrieve him), but his train broke down. He finally arrived after dinner. Vincent, a dancer many of us had worked with in the spring and who lives in France, also came to visit us and came back from Lille with Miguel.
Wednesday night and Thursday night I woke up at 1am and stayed up late to watch the CUBS WHO IN CASE YOU HAVE NOT HEARD WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!! My live stream for game seven was especially spotty, so it was even more of a nail biter!!! The stream went to commercial break right before the last out, and I was FREAKING OUT, and then I got a barrage of texts that they HAD WON, though I was still waiting to see the last out. Just to type it one more time: OH MY GOD THE CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES.
Thursday afternoon our rehearsal director (and another dancer who had been delayed due to visa issues) arrived, so we had to run through all the repertoire we would be performing. Our rehearsal director is staying in a hotel, but now we have a full house of 10!
Today is Friday, and it was a tough day of intense rehearsals with our rehearsal director now here. The last of our clan, a German actor who is a part of the two Sokolow pieces we are doing, arrived in the afternoon. I can’t believe another week is almost over (I shouldn’t speak too soon since tomorrow will definitely be a looooong day of cleaning the dances). I’ll be heading to Bruges tomorrow evening for another quick adventure! Bon soir!
Lots of bikes!!! Outdoor patio at the bar I found The first of many stairways to mmy room
Bloemenmarkt, which was disappointingly mostly bulbs Me with a canal!
Post-dance class picture with our awesome teacher!
Mid-biking photo Moco Museum Banksy!
Mid-biking shot of the back of the iamsterdam sign The bar at House of Bols
Canal at night More
Some dancers ready for another delicious group meal Decked out in Cubs gear post WORLD SERIES WIN