London Town was my second to last stop before heading back to the good ole’ USA. We left Nice painfully early in the morning and headed north. I was so sad but also very excited because I was going to see one of my best friends who I hadn’t seen in two years. We came to an agreement that that was simply too long a time to go without seeing each other and that we had to find a way to somehow make it like it used to be, at least once a year. Of course, in the two years we hadn’t seen each other huge life changes occurred. I got engaged, moved 2,407 miles away from the already gapping distance across the pond, and started grad school. She also moved house, started a new career and well loads and loads more. So in fairness life happens but what I love about REALLY good friends is that not a beat missed, not a second gone by, and that it was as though we could pick up like we had seen each other the night before.
Of course before seeing her bright and shinning face, we stopped over in London and although we were only there for two days we managed to pack it in. We went to the British Library where they had an exhibit showcasing the original Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence. That those documents could influence the Women’s Rights Movement, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Human Rights Act to name a few sent chills down my spine. After 800 years, the Magan Carta continues to be a pillar when discussing freedom in the world and the unfortunate lack thereof that continues in the world. It was a fantastic exhibit worthy of its title Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy.
The following day I took class at Pineapple Studios in Covent Garden. I was disappointed that the class would only run for an hour but I was pleased that I found a fellow Canadian to take class from Lukas McFarlane. I was intrigued by how the class would be run being that the usual 30min was missing. But he set the class up nicely by coming in and getting right to work. Ideally, I would have liked the music to be lower because the cues were very difficult to hear. When stretching we couldn’t identify what was asked of us and because of the volume were unable to decipher what he wanted us to do. The odd thing I found was that we didn’t pay the front desk. Instead, we paid the teacher directly, which took sometime away from the already shortened class. But wow was he efficient. It seemed like there was very little time wasted. The material in the combination was great! I loved the expressiveness of his movement and the attention to detail. I particularly enjoyed that he didn’t want dancers who danced like him but instead encouraged us to find our own meaning and intent. The students adored him and I could definitely see why! He was genuine and really wanted the students to dance, not perform a string of steps, or come to take a fitness class, but really and truly dance, make-up a story as to why they were inhaling and exhaling. It was great to get to dance in one last country before heading home.
That evening we headed to a fringe show at Southwark Playhouse. Grand Hotel was playing at the tiny theater. It was a great show. A throwback to old time musicals when the music was grand, the love between characters was immense, and the relationships created on stage we’re palpable. I didn’t know much about the show except that I had heard the song, “I Want to go to Hollywood” before and liked it’s dynamic. The show was great! And the lack of space gave the director, Tom Sutherland and choreographer, Lee Proud an interesting use of the space that worked so seamlessly I almost forgot that I wasn’t actually inside a Berlin hotel. My favorite was Otto Kringelin played by George Rae. Although I read a review that states he, “appeared too young to be ideal casting,” I thought he played the role with conviction and his age didn’t enter into the equation for me. After all, death doesn’t escape the young or old, male or female. He was excellent! One casting choice that I didn’t buy was Christine Grimaldi as Elizaveta Grushinskaya a former Prima Ballerina with the Paris Opera Ballet. Grimaldi’s movements did not suit the fictional past and she seemed more to be playing the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. The music however was a delight, I wondered so much where they could possibly fit the orchestra and this immediately reminded me of the small spaces our orchestra would fit into on the cruise ships. I noticed a monitor for the actors to reference when signing which certainly helped in the inability to see the conductor. All in all the performance was a delight and I was glad to have experienced the theater in London. If you’d like to read more about Grand Hotel at Southwark Playhouse here is there website and the aforementioned review.
Our last stop was Weybridge, Surrey with day trips to Brighton Beach and Petworth, where I finally was reunited with my friend.
We caught up as though we had seen each other yesterday and watched DVDs of our times dancing on ships together. It was delightful and as soon as we changed the aspect ratio on the TV I felt a whole lot better. We talked about times we had running back to the ship and memories that will continue to last a lifetime. We flipped through my computer and her photo album with pictures from around the world and we laughed.
It was an incredible way to end my time in Europe, reminiscing about my dancing past and looking to my dancing future with this final year of grad school. I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion and here’s to not waiting another two years before we see each other starshine!