Friday, November 14, 2008

Theater Rats

Back in 1999, I joined my first modern dance company, Shapiro and Smith. I was 23 years old and it was my first experience touring. In short, touring goes something like this: you travel to a town. Everything looks different, but you don't really care because you are tired. All the costumes and props must be schlepped to the theater. You go to the theater, change clothes, poke around the stage, find the dressing rooms. The rest of the day is spent on the stage, in the dark, while technicians move ladders and shout to each other. Someone finds an iron for the costumes. It's too cold. Someone finds a couch and naps during the breaks. If you're lucky the buffet the theater has put out has something decent to eat, since you won't see the light of day till tomorrow.

Joanie, the choreographer, was a pro. She'd spent years on the road with Murray Louis and Alwin Nikolais with her husband and fellow dancer (and later co-choreographer) Danny. She was more at home on the road, I think, than she was at home. An amazing cook, she was in rare form in hotel rooms. She always had her own wine opener which she'd brought along in the carry-on luggage. I remember one dinner in Saratoga Springs where she taught me how to use a kitchen towel as a salad spinner. "I'm a theater rat," she'd say, whipping up dinner at midnight, "Can't stand the light of day." She preferred sitting in the darkened house, standing in the wings before entering, looking toward artificial light.

This week at the Staatstheater's not so different. We're putting on our own show, a repeat performance of last year's Choreographers' Evening. Once again, I spent the last few days in the dark. Only this time, I slept in my own bed afterwards.

Here I am in the dressing room of the smallest of the Staatstheater's 3 theaters, TIF, preparing my costumes...

(Thanks to Eva for the pix and Brea for the video)

1 comment:

Lance said...

I worked with Joanie and Danny with the Murray Louis Dance Company in the early-mid 1980s. They were the best people to be with on tour. We had steak Moutarde in London one night and it was our best meal the entire week.