Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Week Full of History

So come Sunday after the blizzard of the century decided to pass, we packed back up and drove back to Bologna. I spent the next four days exploring Bologna. What a city. The first morning I decided to get my haircut and get pointed towards a hair salon on a corner. I walked in and stamped the snow off my shoes and looked up. I had just walked into this very fashionable Asian hair salon. I dont speak Japanese or Italian.... After a lovely game of charades on what I wanted ( There is really only so much you can do with short hair right? ) I gave up and let them do what they pleased. 45 minutes later I walked out of there 12 euro poorer ( not bad for a wash, cut and style ) looking like I had walked out of a 60's magazine.

Bologna was built in a circle with a wall surrounding it. There are 12 gates still standing around the city from the original wall. That first morning I spent walking through the city, peeping into churches, making my way through courtyards and finding museums I wanted to go to. That afternoon I found a small ballet studio and took my first ballet class in Italian! The teacher was so kind and had a picture of LINES on the wall! The neat thing about ballet is that like math, its a universal language. Movement is something that everyone can understand. Its amazing actually.

The next morning I spent at the Musei Universitari Di Palazzo Poggi. The museum of science and art. The collection was fabulous and so old. The museums are all housed in historic buildings so not only do you see the collections but the history of each room the exhibits are in. The rooms in this museum were all completely different, from a room full of fossils and prints and bones to a room full of wax models showing the process of pregnancy which was used to help midwives. I also really enjoyed the Geography and Nautical Science room, full of huge globes, old maps and ship parts. The next museum I went to was the Accademia Di Belle Arti E Pinacoteca Nazionale. This was stunning. This holds paintings ranging from the 1300's to the 1700's. The amazing things about these pieces of art is not just the painting but the frames. Each frame a piece of art work in itself and at times depicting more beauty in my opinion then the paintings. One room was full of massive stone walls that had been found from a church that had once rested above bologna. The age was apparent and that they have taken a beating throughout time but to see these remains was jaw dropping.

The next morning after tackling another ballet class in Italian, I ran through Bologna to make it to an Art history class at the University Todd and Lorenza work at. It was so neat being able to hear about the certain era's of art I had just seen the day before.

My last morning in Bologna I spent at the Museo Della Musica. The museum holds part of the collection of Giovanni Battista Martini, a friar of Bologna whose passion was collecting scores, portraits of musicians, instruments. Not only did this man have one of the largest portrait collections of great musicians including Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mozart, and Bach but the first book of music ever to be printed. Both Mozart and Bach trained at the music school he had opened in Bologna as well.

That afternoon I took a beautiful ride through the Alps back to Germany to Munich. Munich is a fantastic city. Yesterday I spent my first day walking all through the city with some people I met at the hostel. We went to the English Garden where we saw people surfing in the river ( yes surfing! ) The English Garden is a huge park in Munich, it was beautiful covered in snow but I would like to see it in the spring or fall! Walking through the market we stopped to get Leberkaese, a Bavarian specialty. Germany is split into 16 states and Munich is located in Bavaria. ( Bavaria is known for the Liederhosen! ) Leberkaese is a thick slab of meat which consists of ground pork, bacon, corned beef and onions and baked in a loaf. It is then served on a thick roll with sweet or spicy mustard. My first bite into that sent me right to meat heaven... Walking through Marianplatz we saw city hall, and many historic buildings. I went into a church and was pleasantly surprised by this churches simplicity and spaciousness. You cant come to Munich and not drink beer, so at the hostel we signed up for the Munich Beer Challenge ( don't judge, sometimes you just gotta be a tourist ) It was actually historical as well as fun and tasty! They took us to three famous beerhouses around Munich, the Paulaner, Hofbrauhaus and Augustiners. How can you go wrong with a night full of beer and pretzels?


Today I spent the day at Dachau. I went on the tour. I have read so much about World War 2 and the holocaust and in 2008 when I was dancing at Chautauqua I was able to see Elie Wiesel ( Auschwitz survivor and author of "Night" ) speak. Seeing Elie Wiesel as a real human being began to put all the books I have read into a clearer perspective. Walking through the gates of Dachau and reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" on the wrought iron door put it into a perspective of absolute reality. Terrifying, nerve wracking, grotesque, horrifying, sad. Emotion after emotion was coursing through me.
  Dachau was built in 1915 as a munitions factory. It was turned into a concentration camp by Heinrich Himmler in 1933. Dachau was the only concentration camp to exist throughout the entire 12 years of the Nazi regime. It began as a political prisoner camp transitioning into imprisoning Jahova witnesses, gypsy's and homosexuals as well and near the end of the 1930's it became primarily revolving around Jew's although the other types of prisoners were still there as well. Dachau is the only concentration camp to be named after a town. The prisoners were not taken to the front gates of the camp but to the main train station of Dachau and were then forced to march to the camp. When the prisoners walked through the gate to the camp SS general Baronowsky said to them "You will not find anything to laugh t in Dachau. Only the devil laughs. I am the devil." The original barracks in Dachau were only made to last 15 years so there are only 2 barracks that were reconstructed and can be seen. The Bunker, which was the cell for prisoners still stands. Entering the first building sent a chill through my entire body. I saw where prisoners lined up for roll call, slept, went to the bathroom and were killed. I don't know how to describe most of what I saw. As I walked through the gas chamber and crematorium part of me inside was screaming for me to run away while the other half was even more persistent and telling me to look. The towers still surrounding the camp where the Nazis watched over the camp are the original towers and are not open to the public. When Dachau was made into a memorial ground the survivors insisted on keeping them closed so visitors are only able to see the camp the way the prisoners saw it. The most memorable memorial for me in Dachau was a simple garden with the Jewish star and a menorah built of stone in the center of the garden, the sign read, "Do Not Forget". There are memorials that say "Never Again" but it is happening again throughout the world. Memories are forever, "Do Not Forget".

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snow, Snow, Snow, and the beach.

So I am in Italy, yes you would think sun, beach, tans etc. Oh no, I am witnessing the biggest snow storm Italy has seen since 1986.  That didn't stop me though...

Sally Still went to the Sea Shore to collect Sea Shells on a Saturday afternoon in the Snow.

Say that as quick as you can 10 times.

Oh yeah, then sold them.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ciao Bella!

As I left Germany Monday morning I was anticipating warmer weather on my arrival in Italy, boy was I mistaken. Italy has been colder and has had more snow this year than in about ten years. Apart from the weather Italy is exactly what you imagine.... My first night I stayed in Torino at a hostel tucked away on a little street. After finishing my first Italian pizza ( yes I ate it all ) I went back to the hostel and coincidentally the girl sharing my room was a dancer as well! Thank goodness she speaks Italian and was able to find our way to the audition because I most definitely would have been lost. That night I took the train to Genova to stay with Alberto! Genova is very small and incredibly old. Everywhere you turn you see the most beautiful paintings on the walls, architecture, fountains and courtyards. We dropped off my things and then spent the night wandering and eating our way through Genova. Our first stop was this tiny restaurant where we had a glass of barbera. During the hours of 4 and 10 in Italy if you go somewhere to get a drink, for free they bring you out meats, breads and cheeses. So for 6 euros you can enjoy a perfect glass of wine and a delicious assortment of food. We then walked through the maze of streets and went to get the famous focaccia that is sold all throughout Italy.  Before dinner ( still more food! ) we took the "elevator to paradise" an elevator you take to the top level of the city and can see all of Genova from. Breathtaking. He then showed me Columbus's house of birth. Yes, Christopher Columbus. That is how old Genova is. For dinner Alberto took me to this little Italian pizzeria which is known for its extremely cracker thin crust. The next morning I met Alberto's friend Camilla who spent the day taking me to see the rest of Genova. She took me through churches and mansions and courtyards. It is so amazing how this architecture and history is part of everyday life and so normal to see.  Peeping through an archway while walking down a street I saw a fountain built like a waterfall in the side of the building, with huge icicles hanging down it making it glisten in the light. That afternoon I hopped on the train to Milan. When I arrived Giovanni ( Alberto's  friend ) met me at the station and we immediately went sight seeing! He took me to see the Gateway to Rome, the Duomo and the Galleria Vittirio Emanuele where on a part of the marble floor there is a mosaic of a bull and it is custom for good luck to put your heel on the balls of the bull and spin around three times. So naturally I did. The next morning I took on Milan alone and revisited the Duomo so I could go inside. The Duomo has just recently been uncovered from renovation. How do you explain something so immense and intricate? A picture - That should help.... the top of the Duomo is the highest point in Milan. A short walk from the Duomo is Piazza Scala with the famous statue of Leonardo Da Vinci.

   I headed to the train station that afternoon to go to Bologna to see the Waller's! I met Todd at the Neptune statue in the main square of Bologna. Expecting a snow storm in Bologna we rushed back to his house to pack up the kids, jumped in the car and drove to their beach house. The storm hit this town as well ( Cervia ) and the people here have not seen this much snow in ten years or more! This morning we drove into town to pick up grocery's for the weekend and made a pit stop at the beach. It was so windy but so pretty. The beach is normally 50 meters from the dunes but today the water was all the way up to the dunes! In town we got coffee and Italian pastry's ( cream puffs, almond cookies ) then I got to explore the Italian grocery. I love seeing what different countries grocery stores are like. The full squid in the fish section and then the frozen clams next to the frozen pizzas were the winners. 

Since I had been in Germany for the majority of my first month in Europe naturally German is what I have picked up and how I respond to things like yes, no, thank you, hello, goodbye, etc. and I keep responding to people in Italy in German... So confusing for everybody having an American girl speak German in Italy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Frozen snot and broken nails = NEXT

Putting it nicely, negative degree weather where your snot freezes and your fingernails break five minutes after stepping outside is not my cup of tea. I do not think I have ever been more relieved to leave a city then I was to leave Chemnitz. I tried to enjoy the city, I really did, but it was near impossible. And the Ballet... we wont even get into that... The best part about those dauntingly freezing 48 hours was the hostel which was not even in the city but outside of it in the country. The first night I was at the hostel (after getting off the tram and getting lost outside in the middle of no where for 40 min.) I met a young woman named Birgit. She is a teacher who was in Chemnitz for a day for work and is newly engaged and pregnant! The second night I met a group of students who were traveling through Chemnitz and they spent many hours teaching me German swear words. I am a pro at this point.

after an 8 hour train ride through blizzards and mountains and countrysides I finally arrived back into Dusseldorf! I am staying with Suren's brother, (Denise's brother in-law) Lennart, who met me at the train stop and we lugged my stuff to his apartment. This morning after a pleasant breakfast of toast with quirk (yogurt/butter like spread) Lennart went to the barber's and I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. My favorite installation was this room that had these old portraits all over three of the walls. Each portrait had a dimmed desk lamp shining onto the top of them and a tin cookie box underneath. The fourth wall had six shelves reaching up to the ceiling with folded sheets and pillow cases on them. The same lamps were at the top of the shelves as well. The top of the museum is a huge glass dome where you can look over the entire city of Dusseldorf. After the museum I met back up with Lennart and we walked through the old town's market and Konigsallee, the long street lining the river with Gucci, Prada, Tiffany's etc. Great window shopping! We then walked up to another bunch of museums and went to a new photography exhibit which was great. It was very crowded but the photos were beautiful and there was a very wide range of ideas and genres which was neat to see. I enjoyed looking at a set of photos inspired by 60's fashion. One photo in particular was of a petite girl who had on a dress with huge flowers on it, was holding a large soda cup, had on huge eye make up and was wearing a very big wig. She looked like a doll.

A home cooked meal tonight and tomorrow the Gelsenkirchen audition!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ooey gooey chocolate brownies

Classes with Nuremberg Ballet were wonderful and everyone I hung out with during my time there from the company were very welcoming. I was the tallest one... no surprises there I guess. On Friday after class I grabbed Italian for lunch with max. I ordered my usual, a napolitana pizza. Little did I know the pits were still in the olives. When you are not expecting something to be hard you do not really chew carefully in a sense, or at least I realized then that I do not. So there I was chomping away when I bit down on an olive pit and broke my tooth in half. You could say oww. My mouth must have been in shock mode because it was not until about an hour and a half later when max had gone back to the theater and I was walking into the Nuremberg trial museum that my mouth was aching. Being in a foreign country I kept repeating to myself  "dont freak out, dont freak out" I calmly asked the people working the front desk if there was a dentist near by. By some miracle there was one 6 blocks away. I ran. 2 hours later and still a tad drugged up on pain killers I found myself back in the Nuremberg Trial Museum. What an enormous amount of History in one building. The exhibit itself was only one floor but you could easily spend three hours reading everything it had to offer. It not only had World War Two covered but before and what it has been used for since. The courtroom itself had an intensely somber feel to it as I sat there looking, writing and thinking. The royal blue velvet curtains and barred windows makes it feel un-escapable and daunting, though it has an elegance with intricately carved designs and marble entryways.

After feeding my history bug I went back to the Nuremberg Theater to see the Nussknacker ( The Nutcracker ) I have not seen the Nutcracker for about 4 years. This was incredible. The story itself was completely different then most American versions. Clara was a brat and the only "main" character. The choreography revolved around the entire company and everyone was integrated into each piece. The scenery was constantly changing due to the dancers and the lighting.... Amazing. It is so rare to see such great lighting that shows off the dancers and the sets so well. It was the most physical, theatrical and human Nutcracker I have ever seen and it kept my attention until the very end. That in itself is hard to do. After class the next morning I headed back to Frankfurt.

 On Sunday I went out with the family to the Wildpark, a huge forest you can walk through and see moose, elk, wild boars, birds and wolves. The wolves were pretty cool, and when we saw them they were howling which made it even cooler. We did not spend too long at the Wildpark because goodness gracious it is cold! I thought it was chilly at the beginning of January, ha.

The past two days I have been back at the Forsythe studios taking class and watching the dancers. Taking class with the Forsythe Company has been my favorite so far. The atmosphere is welcoming and all about discovering and experimenting and learning. The teachers switch weekly and this week it is an older Russian lady. I have been fully reminded about first position.

Ada and I made dark chocolate brownies today for her uncles birthday tomorrow which was very entertaining and the house now smells of brownies mmmmm. Tomorrow I begin stage two of my trip! Off to Chemnitz. Where? Thats what I said but thanks to google maps I discovered I am going to Eastern Germany. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kickin it with Bill. And fun facts.

The last two days with Forsythe were fantastic. The setting is very open and giving,  encouraging the dancers, actors and artists to experiment, discover and learn. Class was at there rehearsal studio the first two days and then in the theater space on the third. The theater is in this old train station with high ceilings and marley just spread onto the floor so the dancers/artists are on the same level as the audience making it very personal in such a large space. Both were spacious and beautiful with no mirrors anywhere and just made me grin the entire time I was there and not want to stop dancing. William Forsythe talked to me for about 30 min. on the second day I was there. To be able to have a normal conversation with someone you admire and respect so much is unforgettable and something I will carry with me always. Now whenever I am back in Frankfurt between auditions I will be joining classes with The Forsythe company.

After class on Wednesday I went down to Nuremberg and Max met me at the train station! We spent many summers together at SFB and Chautauqua with NCDT and have not seen each other in years. I never would have thought I would find someone I knew in Nuremberg! This morning we went to class which was good and the director watched/took most of class. I will be spending both Friday and Saturday taking class and watching a show Friday night! This afternoon i wandered into the old city, and walked all along the nuremberg wall. It is still 4 (of the 5) Kilometers long. Because I was following this gigantic stone wall around the old city and mainly looking up I had no idea when I walked right into the red light district ( It runs right next to four blacks of the wall) until I looked to my right (away from the wall) right into a big glass window with 3 girls wearing barely anything dancing. I screamed out loud from shock started to laugh and walked as quickly as I could until I finally passed it all. Very unexpected let me say.... I went into the old city after that little adventure and went into the castle and three different churches. One of my favorite things to do in each city is go into the church or dom. They are all breathtakingly beautiful and intricate. Many are being fixed from after the war and some wont be finished for hundreds of more years, the one in Cologne specifically. Near the square I went into a puppeteer shop, antique shops and gingerbread shops. I had to get Lebkuchen, a gingerbread cake covered in chocolate, a signature sweet here! The fountain in the corner of the square caught my attention when I was about to keep walking. As I neared it the color and the details of it were phenomenal. It is not a huge fountain by any means but when the light hits the gold it seems like it will climb upward forever.

Not sure what the night has in store but tomorrow morning class, hopefully followed by some museums before watching max perform with Nuremberg Ballet!

there are sheep in every field
everybody wears boots
the vending machines are stellar.
I am always hearing at least 3 languages at one time
beer = .80 water = 1.20
cobblestone streets all over
in Switzerland everyone seems like they are in a hurry
bread in america sucks.
cars park on sidewalks
somehow the buses fit through the narrowest streets....
you can always get a fresh sandwich for 2 euro anywhere
coffee is served with a cookie or cake

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hallo Frankfurt!

Friday morning I made my way back to Frankfurt! Because it was my first stop on this fabulous adventure it felt really good going back and already being familiar with the city to some degree. I sat next to a french man the entire time who spoke very little English... We had quite the trip together miming and laughing at each others attempts to understand what the other was saying. In the end I figured out he is a musician traveling to dusseldorf for an audition! We passed mountains with  tiny villages nestled in them, castles a top hills and pastures full of grazing sheep. I half expected bo-peep to be tending them... When I arrived in Frankfurt and was waiting for Denise and her family to arrive home so I could meet them, I spent the afternoon milling about downtown and found another bookstore that had a much larger array of English books, thank goodness!

The next morning I was up before light to get to the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof to catch the S Bahn to Mainz. It was snowing! I arrived in Mainz and made my way to the theater. Along with 200+ others... They split the girls into 2 large groups and then had 1 large group of boys. The first cut was done after 30 min. of barre. Safe. The 2nd cut was done after center. There were 12 of us at that point and we were taught rep. on pointe while the boys were in class. We were then taken back upstairs to perform the rep. 8 of us made it through. The boys showed their rep then we were combined with the 4 remaining boys to learn a partnering piece. At that point not only was the director and ballet masters watching but some company members and donors as well and to top it off they were filming us. Then the director began to point and low and behold I was pointed at and was told the next available female contract I have.... Shocked....

As much as I want to, I cant put all my eggs into one basket in case Mainz falls through and I have been learning so much here and have made so many great leads that I have decided to follow those leads and have been invited to private and invite only auditions throughout February. So my trip is extended for another month!

Sunday consisted of sleep, yoga, food, bed.

This morning I took class with the Forsythe Company. It was a very comfortable setting and very experimental which was really a fantastic environment to be in. Class was held in there performance space because Mr. Forsythe changed the bill randomly last night and they had to re set the new pieces they are now performing, crazy! William Forsythe watched the entire class which I was completely unaware of. How was I supposed to know the man leaning over the railing was not just another dancer/observer (which they have!)? I am excited to work with them again tomorrow and Wednesday!