Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Anne's Chicago Dancing Festival Recap

Our trip to Chicago for the Chicago Dancing Festival was short, but

very sweet. I was a little sad to fly separately from the other

dancers but tried to make up for having an easier travel schedule by

packing a picnic dinner for my roommate (Alison) and me to eat once we

got to the hotel (salami, bread, olive tapenade, and ceasar salad).

She brought her baby Charlie along, so I figured the last thing the

three of us should do at 10:00 pm on a Monday night was to go and hunt

down dinner.

We did our best to turn in early, but struggled a bit with the time

difference. We woke early the next morning to head to the Harris

Theater for our lighting rehearsal. Alison and I met a very sweet

young woman from River North Dance Company upon arrival who helped us

arrange the dressing room situation so baby Charlie and the sitter

would have space to settle in.

The theater was lovely and we were excited to see the marley was the

same as the OBT marley. After spacing rehearsal, we all went for a

bit of breakfast since we had a little time before class.

Class is always fun in a festival because you are dancing with dancers

from other companies and taking from a teacher you aren't accustomed

to. Class was very thorough. Of the whole group, only three of us

were in pointe shoes (myself, Alison, and a woman from Richmond

Ballet), which felt very different.

We had to fiddle with our shoe choices for the day because we

discoverd in class that our shoes sounded loud and felt slippery.

This is a tricky thing about touring: you have to have a variety of

shoe choices prepared because a pair that's great at home may be a

disaster on a different stage.

We went through the piece (we danced Trey McIntyre's "Just") doing

some things full out and others not to save energy for the show. I

performed with a new partner, so we wanted to make sure we felt very

"in sync". Lucas is my third partner in this ballet since it was

created in 2005/6). It's a real stamina killer, but so satisfying to


After a bit of rest and a sandwich, it was time to get ready for the

show. Here again, in a festival you have to be much more flexible in

your warm up and preparations because you are sharing the space with

other companies. Christopher came backstage to wish us merde and told

us he was excited to see us dance. We thought that was an incredibly

sweet thing to say (he's seen us dance the piece in around 20 shows)

and it reminded us how fortunate we are to work for such a good boss.

We hit the stage third, right after a real crowd pleaser danced by

River North. I didn't get to watch anything before us because of the

high warm up factor of the piece we were dancing. We had about 90

seconds to feel the space before the piece began. Lucas and I arrive

in the 2nd movement; I start out running on in a blackout to charge

forward and dance as fast as I can for about 32 phrases of music. He

does the same and then we have a duet of the same length and pace.

It's a pretty shocking way to begin a piece and I always feel so free

to enjoy the rest of the piece once I've navigated my way through that

first part.

The piece went very well and I think we all enjoyed ourselves quite a

bit. I think our hometown crowd would have been proud of how we

represented Portland and OBT.

After icing down and packing up, I watched the Joffrey close the

show. I have two friends dancing with them, so I was excited to

connect with them and see them dance. The dancers looked great and I

wished I had been able to see the piece (Age of Innocence) from the


I attended a reception and had a lovely time eating mini burgers and

paninis while talking with, among others, some board members from

Richmond Ballet. I did my best to turn in early since my shuttle was

picking me up at 7:15 am. I was sad to leave so soon but had a great


Anne Mueller

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