Thursday, August 20, 2009

Summer in the city

After my three-week stint as a Midwesterner this past July, my parents surprised me with a brief trip to New York City. After two weeks of Nebraska and a week of seclusion at a cabin in Wisconsin, I really looked forward to the bustle of Manhattan. Part of the reason my folks wanted me to go with them to NY was because of the residence that they've acquired when they travel East. This is the view to the east from the 60th floor condo that they stay in for FREE whenever they travel there. This was my fourth trip to NYC, and this residence was the most different of any other that I've stayed at in the city. The first two times I stayed in hotel rooms that didn't cancel out the noise of the city, and the third time I stayed in the dorms of the School of American Ballet. This was different because it was so quiet up on the 60th floor. And quiet isn't something that I associate with NYC.

The next day I took class at Steps on Broadway with Willy Burrman. I was so stimulated by the dance environment of Steps that I forgot how long it'd been since I danced. Steps offered a grab bag of dancers: from stars of City Ballet and Ballet Theatre to people, like the woman I shared a barre with, who could very well be taking their first ballet class. I danced with the likes of City Ballet's Maria Kowroski, Teresa Reichlen, Tom Gold (former NYCB), Stephen Hanna (former City Ballet, current adult Billy Elliott on Broadway), Ballet Theatre's Jose Manuel Carreno, Julio Bocca (former ABT), and a handfull of Miami City Ballet dancers that I also recognized. And I actually knew two of the dancers in the class personally: one girl danced with me at a summer course at PNB a couple years ago, and one man was a dancer with the Omaha Theater Ballet when I was about 14. I approached him and said, "You might not recognize me, but I was a student in Omaha when you were in the company." When I shared with them that I was with OBT they asked how we were doing, as they'd heard about the Dance United benefit and our financial situation and wished us the best.

After class I ventured to the Yumiko Store. Yumiko is a dancewear provider that's popular among the ballet community. Her work is generally only available online, but recently opened a store in NY.

Just walked by Alvin Ailey's new dance studios, which are beautiful. Wished I could've had a chance to dance in them, but it was a short weekend.

Spent a large chunk of time, and could've spent much longer amount of time, at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts. They had a terrific exhibit of the Diahilev and the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo. Reminded me of our performances of Rite of Spring celebrating the anniversary of the company. Had some great clips of video, music, books, etc. showing how inventive, necessary, collaborative, and groundbreaking the short-lived Ballets Russe company was to 20th century ballet. For me, two of my most definitive ballet moments have been dancing in Balanchine's Apollo and Christopher Stowell's Rite of Spring this past March, and both of those works (Apollo in its entirety, and Stravinsky's compostion of Rite of Spring) were products of the Ballets Russe.
Snapped a shot of Jerome Robbins Place walking by it near Lincoln Center.

Towards the end of the second day in the city, I was really pining for a taste of Portland. I mapped out a day to find a Stumptown Coffee. And luckily, Spoon came to our rescue. When we arrived there we asked if we could have our coffee "for here," and I've never seen a barista look so confused. "You want to stay here and drink your coffee?" she asked. "Yeah, we just want to sit for a bit," I said. "Oh...well, if you want to..."

I tried to be a New Yorker and blend in for the short time I was there: I referred to Manhattan as "the city" and wore dark clothes and walked quickly and pretended to know where I was going. But I think I was pretty unsuccessful at it. It reminded me that I am a northwesterner at heart, that I am glad to be back in Portland, and ready to celebrate 20 years of OBT.

Let's dance.

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