Between the shows

Somehow during my marathon of a weekend performing in Ottawa I found time to do a little exploring of the city. My schedule was quite packed.  So much of my day was taken up at the theatre. We arrived Wednesday night, Thursday night we had our first performance after having rehearsals all afternoon. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we had two shows each day. If I didn’t have the desire to explore Ottawa it would have been all too easy to spend all day at the theatre and all night at the hotel. But then I likely would’ve lost my mind much sooner in the weekend. Ottawa had some very interesting and unique places that I am very glad I took the time to experience.

Friday afternoon was the longest break we had all weekend. Our first show was a school matinée performance. It began at 11:30 which means we were done by 1:30 and ready to explore. From the National Arts Center where we were performing we took a quick two block walk to the grounds of Parliament. We spent a long time standing outside taking pictures before we realized we could actually walk inside the gate and inside one of the buildings. The buildings were so grand and important looking (how fitting) and laid out on the perimeter of a lovely courtyard. The tallest building, with the clock tower, that faces the street was open for visitors to enter. Of course security was secure and we were only allowed to see very select areas of the building but the interior was just as magnificent as the exterior.

Our next stop was some food. For the last day or so I had been hearing other dancers raving about a little cafe called Scone Witch. What makes this wondrous establishment unique is not just their delicious scones but that the diner may choose to turn his or her scone into a sandwich. There is a small (yet perfect) number of choices to decide among for the scone flavor and also what the innards of the sandwich will be. I chose to get tuna fish salad with tomato, lettuce, and black olive paste on a feta and chive scone and added a bowl of chickpea and rosemary soup on the side. Boy was it delicious! I am always a big sucker for baked goods and turning it into a sandwich just makes it irresistible. The scone was perfect and fluffy from the feta. The salty wonder of the black olive paste was a nice touch to balance out the creamy tuna. The soup had a magnificent rosemary flavor. It was too good to handle and well worth the near 15 minute walk it takes to get there. While I was there I also got a sweet scone (lemon poppy-seed) and cream. How could I not? That was also so delicious I got a few more to take with me that I somehow made last to the end of the weekend.

My next Canadian culinary adventure took place on what I believe was Saturday night. (If I am remembering correctly). This time we waited until after the performance to indulge ourselves in the greasy goodness otherwise known as poutine. Poutine is a Canadian specialty. The traditional serving consists of french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. It would have been just as satisfying to go with the original but when presented with many more interesting flavor combinations at the Somke’s Poutinerie I had to go with something wild. The final choice was the Nacho Grande. Loaded on the my french fries was cheese (of course), chili, sour cream, guacamole, and peppers. Ay carumba! Thank goodness I was sharing because if I ate the whole serving by myself I likely would have had some serious issues. Never before have I enjoyed soggy fries as much as I did while I was eating that dish. With each forkful I aimed to get fries and all of the toppings at once for the full flavor experience. It disappeared rather quickly and left me full and incredibly satisfied. Good thing we waited until after the show was over to be so gluttonous.

I have just one last addition to my food adventures in Ottawa and that is the By Ward Market. This half indoor, half outdoor market place was a mere 3 minute walk from our hotel and was the source of my coffee and breakfast every morning as well as being a interesting place to wander around and observe. There were many specialty stores lining the perimeter and clustered in the middle was a strip of small bakeries, cafés, and restaurants ranging in cuisine from Greek to Indian. If I had had more time in Ottawa (and a fully equipped kitchen) I would have happily gotten all my food from the stores at this market.

Look! I had my own corner backstage!

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Half Hour Call

This weekend I am on tour in Ottawa, Canada performing George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet. How awesome is that? We arrived around 8 on Tuesday night after an excruciatingly long 10-hour bus ride that was not without a few frightening moments. The first happened just one hour into our journey. The built-in DVD player on the bus stopped working halfway through our first movie. Fabulous. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to occupy myself for 10 hours without a movie or two. I don’t think I was alone either, no one was pleased that it broke. After two hours of driving, per union rules, it was time for our first 20 minute rest to get off the bus for a snack, bathroom, smoking break, or other desired activity. Wonderfully, by some stroke of magic, the DVD player was fixed and in full working condition as we all piled back on to the bus. We were saved from a slow boredom-ridden demise. We got back on the road and things started running smoothly again. We stopped again, this time we had an hour for lunch so I made sure to get in a good 20 minutes or so of power walking around the mall where we stopped. Back on the bus again. The sun went down. We crossed the border. Everyone was allowed to enter Canada. We stopped again. But wait, we weren’t at a rest stop, we were on the side of the road. The lights turned off. The bus stopped running. Everyone searched for answers with panicked looks. It was pitch black outside and we were stopped on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. (Yes this sounds like a scene from a horror movie but this truly happened). I was expecting us to be there for a while. Maybe we ran out of gas? The lights came on and off a few more times until finally the bus engine started purring again. As we pulled back on to the road a voice from the front of the bus called back informing everyone to unplug everything from the outlets on the bus. Apparently all the electronics was too much for the bus to handle. Interesting. Two movies and one more (actual) rest stop later and we finally made it to our hotel. The bus was unloaded and room keys were passed out. Almost all the dancers have rooms on the same floor of the hotel. Once we all got settled my roommate and I roamed the halls and gathered a group together to go out and explore Ottawa. We didn’t wander very far because it was dark and rainy but we went far enough to get Canadian dollars from an ATM and have dinner. The travel day was done and now the fun begins.

The next day we had leisurely morning, class at the theatre wasn’t until noon. We took class on stage and started right away into a full day of rehearsals. The first few hours were devoted to Act 2. Being mostly dancing and few logistics there was not much stopping. We were given a short break for dinner before starting the rehearsal of Act 1. Having many more features such as children, growing trees and a battle, the first act rehearsal had much more stopping and starting, but that was expected.

I love being in the theatre. It is such an exciting place to be and it means that I am (or going to be) performing. Performing is my favorite part of being a ballet dancer. It brings me such a feeling of elation that words just cannot describe. It is my happy place. When I am on stage nothing else matters but me and what I can give to the audience. The Nutcracker is a particularly special performance because this production is more often than not the first ballet many young children attend. I hear stories all the time of professional dancers who realized they want to pursue a career in ballet after seeing their first ballet: The Nutcracker. I want to be the reason that a little child in that audience turns to his or her parents to beg for ballet classes.

Tonight is opening night! We are in Ottawa from December 1st to the 4th then return to Philadelphia for a full run of performances starting on the 10th and running through the 31st. If you are interested in going to a show check out Pennsylvania Ballet and support the arts!

New (Temporary) Home

I am officially living in Philadelphia for the next two months while I perform in The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet. Yesterday was moving day. I woke up (an hour after my alarm went off), stuffed my car as neatly as I could, stopped for a much needed car wash, and began my drive across Pennsylvania. Sadly most of the leaves have fallen off the trees by this point so the scenery wasn’t much to be admired. That made the drive pretty boring. I listened to some great music and called a few people to make the time go faster. It didn’t work too well. Road trips by yourself just really aren’t the best. At least there was hardly any traffic.

I made it to my destination at about 3 in the afternoon. Because the apartment building is in the middle of downtown there is no driveway or available street space for unloading. The sidewalk it was. Apparently that’s how most residents of the building unloaded their belongings. My friend and his roommate included. Fine with me. Upstairs, I started right away to make my “room”. I am using a combination of the hall closet and a stack of plastic drawers for my clothes. I have a few extra bins and organizers for my ballet clothes and all my scarves. I think I left more than half of my scarves at home too. It all worked out rather fabulously. It’s a small space but It is just perfect for me and my semi-nomadic lifestyle.

Because I made my room into the foyer, in order to separate my new living quarters from the rest of the apartment I purchased 2 metal clothes racks and some curtains from Ikea to set up as a wall. However, as I was unpacking we noticed that there were some fixtures on the wall that would work perfectly for me to tie some string from and hang my curtains. How lucky! Now I have my own little oasis that makes me feel like I should be escaping from reality on some remote tropical island. Too bad I’m not. Instead I will be romping around in snow for the next two months. Can’t wait.

It has already snowed once this year. On Halloween weekend. Way too early in the year if you ask me. I will admit there was one benefit to the snow. It gave me the opportunity to take pictures with my new camera! Here is a small sample of a few of my shots so far. More from Philly in a few days!

Procrastination

Packing is the worst. This is my procrastination.

I am leaving in two days to drive to my new (temporary) home in Philadelphia. I will be performing The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet.  I am incredibly excited. I just wish I didn’t have to pack first. Could I just snap my fingers and be there with all my belongings? I spent nearly all day yesterday making piles on my bed and arranging them into my suitcase. Giving it my best attempt to effectively utilize the space and fit as many things in each suitcase as I could. At about 9 I hit a wall. Bedtime was approaching quickly and I was still overwhelmed by the amount of un-packed items on my bed. They all had to go before I could sleep. (I did that intentionally but it slightly backfired). I ended up loosely tossing the rest of my things into an empty suitcase and left it for today. As you can see, that plan isn’t working out so great. I am about 2/3 of the way complete with my packing. It’s just that last awful 33.3 repeating percent. It’ll have to happen either today or tomorrow or it’s getting left behind. I’ll just force myself into my room, crank up some tunes (lately I’ve been obsessed with the new M83 album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.”) and not let myself out until I have successfully packed my third and final suitcase.

The motivation will come. I can feel it.

Almost.