Tours are fun*. They can also be stressful**. Traveling in a huge group one tends to expect and accept a certain amount of chaos. Even within a German ballet company. The chaos may be already factored into the schedule, but it’s definitely still there. There are so many things to organize and so many people to keep track of, it’s nearly impossible for things to run seamlessly.
We definitely don’t travel light. We have our director, his assistants, our ballet masters, our technicians, our “maske”, a select few from the press department, our set, our costumes, make-up, and a ton of pointe shoes that all travel with us. Traveling together is part of the fun. We are such a wonderfully weird group of individuals, when put together we forget how to conduct ourselves in the real world. Walking down the aisle of the plane you’ll see legs flying in the air, feet twirling in circular motions. Dancers congregating and stretching at the back of the plane, a free drink in hand (thank you Luftansa), and the stewardesses yelling at us to “Please return to your seats!”
Yes, tours are definitely fun. The second we all get to a new hotel and get our assigned rooms we get out our phones and take down each other’s room numbers. You know, because God forbid we should get separated from each other for a few hours! The hotels we stay in are usually pretty nice. Breakfast is a big deal, if the breakfast is good we love the hotel. If the breakfast is shit, we hate the hotel. If breakfast isn’t included, just don’t talk to me, I’m that upset about it and will continue to be for the rest of the tour.
It always takes a certain amount of time before you really settle into a place and get your head around things. It’s like traveling anywhere, it takes time to get your bearings. Once one person in the company discovers a cool cafe or restaurant, suddenly everyone’s all over it. “Did you hear? There’s a really good sushi restaurant right around the corner from the hotel. It’s so good, and cheap!” Suddenly that “really good sushi restaurant” becomes our canteen. It’s funny because we all pretend like we don’t want to be around each other all the time. We complain about being sick of each other, but I think deep down we know that we’d actually really hate to be completely separated and alone. Especially on tour. Correction: Especially on tours to Asia.
Asian tours are always the greatest, well, they make for the best stories anyways. “Lost in Translation” doesn’t even begin to describe the looks that some people have on their faces the first time they get off the plane and arrive in China. It’s definitely another world from the one we’re used to. We’ve done class in some interesting studios. Some have been massive, so big we could fit three of our companies in one room. While others have been so teeny tiny that some can’t even bend forward without hitting the person in front of them in the butt. The floors have been too hard, too slippery, too sticky. Some stages are tiny, others HUGE. The biggest thing about tour is learning how to suck it up and do your job regardless of the circumstances. Easier said than done.
Food poisoning is always a big scandal on tours. Sorry, “on tours to Asia”. There’s always someone that eats the mystery beef stew and suffers the consequences later. I’ve actually never gotten sick on tour, I think it’s probably due to my iron stomach. It seems I can eat anything. Although I tend to steer clear of the mysterious and poorly translated dishes that you find on some menus. “Meat muscle stupid bean sprouts” or “Meat fried cat ear/the plate” or my personal favorite “Big dump in vegetable and fork”.
This last tour we went on was awesome. In London not much can go too terribly wrong. Besides the fact that the stage was the size of a postage stamp, the floor was too hard, and we didn’t have barres for our first class in the studio and had to use a prop horse instead, it was great! There weren’t any complaints about the food, no need for suggestions on places to visit. People seemed happy. I think the fact that there wasn’t a language barrier helped too. No having to mime the type of animal you’d like to eat to your waiter. “Chicken. Chicken? You know? Cluck! Cluck! (insert chicken dance here)”.
* What a revolutionary sentence. I realize, I’m quite the genius aren’t I? …Maybe I should just stick to ballet.
**Ok, would anyone mind if I were to just end this blog entry right here, right now?