I have to tell you guys about my last Friday, because today’s just isn’t making the cut. I know we can’t have sunny days all the time (well, I guess only in Rio…) but mother nature went coo-coo this week and flipped everything upside-down: Monday, one of the most (if not the most) dreaded days of the week was beaming with sunlight and warmth, while Friday, our stardom character in TGIF, started out with wimpy rain and low temperatures. Why, why Mr. Friday? We were doing so well…and for some reason I can’t help but notice the correspondence of my mood to these unfortunate weather mix-ups. Oh well.
But I have faith! I have faith in that remembering last week’s Friday (and thus also making reference to last week’s post, which I mumbled here and there about one’s fine recollections in life) I shall uplift my spirits and prepare for a great weekend! Indeed. Let’s begin.
Last Friday I went to nothing more nothing less than our cool next-door neighbor (don’t you remember those? They were older and just had that “je ne sais quoi”. And you admired them. They intimidated you. You had fun creeping on them behind your front-house porch. Just admit it, we know you did that.) Well, anyway, yes, one of those. This one is oh so cool, it’s our three-letter DJ of the cities: NYC. You know it’s up to him to get the party started. Wop, wop wop wop wop, wop em NY style.
My friend from dance and I decided to go take a master class by the Canadian modern dance company Kidd Pivot. The choreographer, who is the amazing, uber-talented, down-to-earth and ultra nice Crystal Pite taught the class, which was from 10am-12pm, meaning we had to take the 7am bus from Philly, (meaaaaaan)ing I had to wake up with my friend, Mr. Sun, at a dazzling 5am. Oy. Oh what we do for dance…
So there we were, standing in front of the studio door, a quarter to 10am, wiping the dried-up drool stains on the lower corner of our lips from the delicious naps we took on the bus, giving slight taps to our cheeks to wake them up, and wishing we had tooth picks so we could stick them between the base of our eyes and our eyelids to keep them open. But stepping into the class served as a shot of Caffeine: crossing over the door which created a line that separated the reception area from the studio linoleum floor was like stepping into another universe. And we became aliens. Dancing aliens. More importantly: awake dancing aliens. Oh yeah. We were all ready to shake our foreign bodies all over the Milky Way. Snap.
Dancers are so beautiful. They wear slick and baggy, mismatched clothing with only one item of the pair, and layers. Many, many layers. We give Shrek a run for his money layer-wise. It’s a peculiar fashion world, a mash-up of aesthetics with functionality, adding to the beauty and adapting to the freedom of our movement. And underneath all of those layers, are beautiful bodies, all different, but all fit and healthy in their own ways, flowing with artistry and athleticism, which are revealed little by little as our internal temperature and that of the room goes up and the layers come off, one. by. one.
As legs go up, down, behind, and inside-out as these peculiar creatures warm up, sparkly Crystal glides in like an icicle and greets us all in a frosty-white smile. It’s a directed improvisation class, meaning she gives us exercises with a focus on a body part, a movement quality, and/or an image and we have to move with those directions in mind. It’s such an interesting experience because I find it to be (surprisingly) as much intellectual as it is physical. You really have to get in tune with your body and transform these concepts from your brain into a corporeal embodiment. It’s deeply discovering and mastering and controlling the impulses of your internal environment and translating them into an intentional, planned, concrete action. This happens (and must happen) in a series, one after the other, in a matter of seconds so that you don’t know when something starts and when somethings ends (at least with a good improviser). That is the objective for us all. At the same time it’s crucial that you let the movement have a life of its own and follow it instead of just give it orders. It’s a constant struggle between the rational and the instinct: they work together to create a series of interesting, research-based, exploration-favored movements into one flow of energy. All of these million things going on in your head and being transferred to your body while at the same time letting the body take over once in a while, letting thought rest aside, all happening at once in a single moment, which produces a movement. And they say dancers can’t think. (Facepalm).
The class was…hard. Challenging. Peculiar. Feel-good. Sweaty. And needless to say, interesting. At soon as the clock struck 12 the hunger chimes went off and my Cinderella stomach was growling for food. So off we were to the showers and after, to a much-deserved lunch. We stopped at a PAX foods store, which has a selection of tasty salads, soups, sandwiches, and sweets. Among the multiple delicious options available my friend and I decided to split two sandwiches: smoked turkey with artichoke spread and caramalized onions on grainy bread (number 1) and roasted chicken with portobello mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes on rosemary foccacia bread (number 2). Hmm hmmm hmm. It was such an amazing lunch….we then head off to do some prancing (and a good portion of digesting) on the busy, buzzled, baffled streets of nyc (and whatever that all means). We went to the box office to get our tickets, went to a whole foods, window-shopped, until it was time for a mid-afternoon snack. (I feel like you think the only thing I do is eat….yeah, you’re right).
Fulfilling the neediness of our bellies, we stopped at a nice cafe for some sweets and coffee close to where we intended to do some shopping. The look was inviting, the smells were satisfying, and the music, infectious. I chose to have a frothy chai latte paired with a divine chocolate chunk cookie (which was warmed up–crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and with melting chocolate to add up as the cherry on top). Hmmmmm hmmmm hmmmm. Needless to say the conversation that followed couldn’t be anything short of fulfilling and satisfying (I mean really, when can you go wrong with good food?). Speaking of which, after much tiring but always fun shopping, it was time to grab some dinner before the show. My friend wisely picked this little but cozy Venezuelan restaurant which was bursting with South American music, vibrant colors and familiar smells. Even though Spanish isn’t my native language and there are still many differences between us, my Latin-American neighbor made me feel closer to home. A long time of menu-researching was followed by orders of yucca fries with Guacamole as a starter, arepitas with goat meat and coconut sauce, and a generous portion of their traditional dish which included white rice, black beans, shredded chicken stew and plantains (!!!), not to mention a spicy Sangria for my friend and a pleasantly sour Margarita for me as accompaniment (don’t worry, we are both over 21!). And then, (are you ready for this?) it was time for dessert. We were pretty satisfied, it’s true, but we couldn’t say no to what came next. When our waitress told us about the three-milk cake with rum and coconut, we knew we were sold. The sweet, moist, frothy cake was what I imagine heaven tastes like. Ahhh sweet memories…
7:50pm: show time. We head to the Joyce Theater which is just minutes away and take our limited-view view, student tickets seats. Not bad, actually. Second row! We miss a bit of the floor work, but nothing that a little push-up from the arm seats can’t fix. The performance, called The Tempest, is like nothing I have ever seen. The first part is very mime-y, a form of real live cartoon comic book story-telling, with movie-like special effects and fancy media, but with a touch of dancing. It’s fascinating. The intricate play with the music (as the door creaks, the dancers mime opening a door, and such and such), the peculiar costumes (all but one were dressed in white from head to toe. Seriously, head to toe), which created this sort of alien-like creature (told yah we were aliens), and the skill and control of the talented dancers joined with the creative artistry of Crystal Pite. But then, halfway through, the dancers came on the stage with normal clothes and an amazing amount of dancing began. So much amazing dancing. I can’t even express how wonderfully talented and how unbelievable the energy control was. And the movement: so beautiful. We were left speechless, with nothing but “oohs” and “ahhs” and a much-deserved standing ovation at the end.
We came back on the bus with happy hearts, happy bellies, and happy spirits. Nyc Friday, here is my standing ovation to you.