Monday, May 3, 2010

iTour: Israel 5/2: Jerusalem

in the arab quarter, Jerusalem

Pretty good day. Had an early trip to Jerusalem, saw the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, drove next to the 'Valley of Death' but didn't have time to walk down there. Wailing Wall ... several interesting old churches, a few stations of the cross, and the Church of the Sepulchre, containing the slab Christ was (maybe?) buried on and is over the spot he was nailed to and then crucified. Heavy stuff. One cool old church was a greek orthodox church underground, begun in an old cave ...

Luckily we had time for a trip over to the Iraqi Market, stopping in the old Roman Market along the way. In the Iraqi market we got a great meal of Hummus with Meat, Eggplant Moussaka (with meat), some sort of rice dish with carmelized onions and some kind of soup with dumplings.

After the trip, graciously led by Yoav's sister Judy and her son Asif, I drove us home in the rental car. Yeah, I don't know how legal it was, but I drove through downtown Jerusalem, the West Bank and back to Tel Aviv while Judy navigated.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

iTour: Israel 5/1

A few pics:
the view from the top of Masada

Our theater in Jerusalem:

Bettie and James and the Elvis mug

Dome of the Rock (supposed site of the ascension of Muhammad) built over the old jewish Temple built by Herod.Getting ready for the show in Jerusalem:

Friday, April 30, 2010

a day off!

Today we met at 8 to head out to Masada and the Dead Sea.

Stopped at Qumeran along the way - the area where in 1947 a pair of Bedouins stumbled across the Dead Sea Scrolls. A cool stop, to visit the area where the Essenes did their thing. Some suggest there's evidence that John the Baptist was an Essene, and that the apostle Paul was as well.

Masada was pretty cool, Herod built this amazing mountain top palace/stronghold, and then never spent any time there, except for a couple visits. It's an Israeli national symbol now ... and at one point the Byzantines built a church and had a monastery up there.

We drove through parts of the West Bank to get there, that was cool.

Best part of the day was the Dead Sea ... I've never ever floated before, I always sink, like most men in the company. We had a great time floating out in the water, goofing around with the black mud full of minerals all over us and paddling back out in to the water. It stung in our cut feet, and MAN does it burn if it gets in your eyes! It was a really great ending to the day - we'd been on our feet all day and listening to the tour guide. It was interesting stuff, we were just all so tired, so it was nice to have some time to play together in the mud and water.

We stopped at the Elvis diner on the way back, outside Jerusalem in the West Bank, in an area of Israeli control in the Palestinian territory.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

iTour: Israel 4/29

I wish I had more to say. There's no denying we're here to work ...

Tuesday I went to an artist market with Amy, Annmaria and Cisco. I didn't see anything that grabbed me so I headed back to the hotel for a nap and some yoga before the hour ride to Petah Tikvah. The show went fine, sort of a lukewarm audience at first.

The show was at 9, but at 7:30 we found it was really at 8:30! That was fine, since it meant we'd get back to Tel Aviv before our favorite falafel stand closed. I got sabiq: eggplant, hummus, tahini, tomato onion parsley and hard boiled egg in a pita with spicy oil. Real good.

Yesterday was like that, only it was a longer drive and we ate in Haifa before bussing home - I saw nothing of Haifa but the theater and the restaurant down the block.

This morning I wok up late, and headed out to breakfast with my kindle. I ate at Bistro 99 down the street - eggs, tomato cucumber salad, olives, bread and cappuccino all for 10 bucks!

Today we head to Jerusalem ... I am psyched but don't expect to see much until our group tour on sunday...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

iTour: Israel day 1

We got to our hotel monday morning at 4 am. Cool mural above my bed.
Slept until 1 and spent the rest of the day at the beach with Amy and Annmaria. Rob joined up with us for dinner in old Jaffa. We stumbled into a really nice restaurant.

I got a piquant tomato salad, tomato, onion, cilantro and melon all diced up together, followed by some sort of almond stuffed pork medallions on onions and cucumbers that was out of this world. The drink special was arak (anise liquor, like sambuca) with fresh pomegranate juice and ice. Really good.

Today I am heading to an art market before we leave for our show in the Tel-Aviv suburb of Petah-Tikvah.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

iTour Stage 2: Modena, Italy

Ceiling of the theater here in Modena

Beautiful theater here in Modena.
We didn't have to rehearse as much here, as they figured they'd let us rest a little more. However, I could have used it since this was the steepest rake. I made up for it by spending time warming up, making sure I covered tricky stuff like, turning on a diagonal.

Sean has a level app in his iphone, and has been measuring the last few rakes. Mestre was around 4 degrees, Pavia 2, and Modena 5.6! It doesn't sound like a big number or difference, but you could get a calf stretch by facing upstage ...

Smoke: Changes opens with a haze onstage. Steve called smoke go, then stop smoke. The guy misunderstood and cranked it up more. As a result there was so much smoke onstage that we couldn't see the audience, and they couldn't see us. It was like a scene from Spinal Tap. You couldn't even see the 1000 foot-candle lights from the side of the stage when onstage.

There was a pocket that seemed clear of smoke so I steered my solo/duet with Amy down to that part of the stage, but according to Bettie and Andy out front it didn't matter: when the curtain rose so much smoke went into the audience that they couldn't see more than a few feet.

Spinal Tap.

At least dinner was good.

Today we fly to Israel. First yoga in the room and then a walk with a few of the others. It's a holiday and everything here is closed, btu Amy and I have to settle a bet and someone owes a gelatto. Trouble is I can't remember who owes whom ...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

iTour Stage 2: Italy tough day-2 Pavia

The above 2 pics are of the theater we performed in tonight in Pavia. Beautiful! And we got home at the timely hour of 3:15 ... so why am I posting this before bed?

nice theater in Modena ... we had a good time eating gelato and cappuccino between rehearsal and the show. This was Thursday. We got home at 3:45 am, by the time I brushed my teeth and did a little stretching to undo the busride the morning birds were singing.

Time for bed ... no bus ride today, just a 4 pm theater call for rehearsal and show.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

iTour Stage 2: Italy tough day

We got into Modena last night about 6:30.
After settling into my small room with a big window I took a walk in the pleasant air. After waiting 5 hours in the airport for our delayed flight and riding in the bus for an hour I needed to be away from the others for a bit, so the sweet air and beautiful cobbled streets the perfect company.

I chose a restaurant at random, and was ready to unpack the kindle when John called my name. They had already eaten but I joined John, Bettie and Andy for a nice outdoor dinner of carpaccio and arugula, then orichiette with sausage.

Today we bus 3 hours to Mestre (outside Venice) rehearse and perform, find a restaurant after our 9pm show, and bus home. Tomorrow we do the same ...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

iTour Stage 2: Italy

So I meant to get out and see Bari but by noon I felt pretty bad. By the time I headed to the theater I had a fever and chills and aches. This meant bundling up with an extra shirt and doing mix of yoga, pilates and ballet for a warmup. I spent all the time I needed, getting my center set up and warm, and then made sure to get some movement phrases in at the end of the warmup, all the way to jumps - you'd be surprised how many people don't do this.

I took special care to work on things that the rake had tripped me up on. It worked pretty well, I nailed a double turn to a pitch arabesque ... as well as a double pitch attitude turn. Not bad for a raked stage.

As soon as I was done dancing for the night the chills and aches came back. The cast of Brandenburgs was wailing away on stage and I spent time alternately bundled and stretching or photographing.

I planned on going out after the show but was far too blown. Sean got takeout pizza and salad on his way back to the hotel for a skype date with his wife and brought me some pasta and bread. I was starving, but also nauseous ... so I dithered between chowing hungrily and closing my eyes and moving away from the smell so as not to throw up.

I think Andy is doing a great job as company manager. John has some big shoes to fill, and Andy has an ease to the way he's handling this transition that's nice - Andy did run Taylor 2 for 2 years so he's accustomed to the job. It's also nice to have him helping give notes - we can approach him on the side to make sure our choices read. Here he is getting a head count for the restaurant for after the show:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

iTour Stage 2: Italy-> Bari day 2

After a nice hotel breakfast, and reading in the room I headed to the theater, a short walk down the street. It's a nice little jewel-box opera house, lots of character all around.
Anmaria's dressing room:

It was a good show, lots of good dancing all around.

Monday, April 19, 2010

iTour Stage 2: Italy-> Bari

It's only a 2 hour flight to Rome from Istanbul, but it felt like it was forEveR. Maybe it was the strange loading process in Istanbul, enter the aiport: pass your stuff - all of it, through an x-ray and walk through a metal detector. Then check in, go through passport control, then get to your gate, where you wait in line to go through x-ray/ metal detectors again. Then wait to get onto the plane.

In Rome, we went through security again before changing planes.

However, it was all made up for by the meal we had last night. Right down the street from our fine hotel is a little cafe that Sean, Michael, Cisco and I decided was close and cheap enough for our dinner. Carpaccio with arugula and parmesan for me, followed by cavatelli with crushed cherry tomato, arugula and spicy ricotta grated on top... yeah, we'll do fine here.

We head to the theater soon ... I forget if this is the one we performed in back in 2003.

Nice view of an old building across the street out my 2nd floor window:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Istanbul Day 5: Show # 2 and leaving

Well, I talked up that kokoresh sandwich I had the other day to the others a lot. I found out what's in it ... it's sheep stomach or intestines. I don't know if I would have ordered it had I known, but it was good.

I woke up in time for breakfast and spent time socializing, and read in the hotel till call.

Did a solid warmup, but felt crappy by the time we were rehearsing the last dance. Couldn't land jumps well - couldn't use my legs to cushion a landing, every landing reverberated up my spine. It was a concrete stage, and I can usually adjust to it, but I was cooked.

I took a little nap in the couch in the dressing room I share with Michael, did a nice solid pilates warmup and was able to have a pretty rockin' show.

Airs opened, and I had no problem with jumping, cushioned everything pretty well, taking transitions in the muscles rather than the joints. My duet with Annmaria went very well, we've gotten more and more used to each other in the fast stuff. And it's pretty fast. I felt like I did the slow stuff well, so last night felt like the best one yet.

Changes, I was in a good mood from Airs. But after my duet with Amy I was pretty tired. At least it's all downhill after that... Airs sorta wiped me out. James and Amy goofing around helped through.

Promethean. I think It was number 203 for me last night. Again, a good little duet with Amy. The intense stuff comes easy these days, I can slip into that mode without any forcing. I know that I'm leaving this behind, so I can let things go that ordinarily may have gotten to me. It's great, and I am having a good time onstage, despite missing my family...

Last night I ate at Kebabi again. Why eat Italian when we're about to go to Italy for a week?

Today we fly to Bari ... gnocchi tonight! Off to breakfast and the gym ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Istanbul Day 3: Shows begin

Back to work today ...
I overslept and missed breakfast, so I stretched in the room for a bit, showered and shaved and headed out for kebab.
After that, it was a typical show day - a little yoga in the room and heading down to lobby call. On the bus we caught up with the tour stories: who bought what where and for how much, who got lost, ripped off by cabbies, sick, or finally caught up on sleep. Sean slept for close to 15 last night! I guess he hadn't slept but a couple hours since we'd been here. He wasn't able to sleep at night and pushed himself to go sightseeing/rug shopping during the day both days.

I had an easy show - 1 dance, Piazzolla Caldera. Rehearsed first, performed last, it makes for a long day in a dark theater. At least I was dance captain for the other dances so I had something to do other than sit in the dark.

The theater is decent, 900 seats, clean. It's a concert hall though, so not made for theater or dance. Crossover is in the hall, wooden walls backstage, and not a very high ceiling. Hard stage but Steve had the crew lay a carpet under the marley to make it softer.

I had a good show, no complaints. We opened with Brandenburgs, which has some pretty damn good dancing by the company. It's always a joy to watch the men jumping in that one, and women's dancing is really incredible. It helps that they all love the dance so much, and you can listen to Bach over and over again.

After dinner I hit the local place down the street 'kebabi' As in:

Bobby: what you gonna eat now?
JB: Kebabi ... I don't know, but whatsever I play, it's GOT to be TURKISH...

James Brown anyone?

OK, thank you skype for letting me talk to my family ...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Istanbul Day 2: the jet set

Today felt more like a dancer's day:
- wake up at 10 and try to get to breakfast before they close at 10:30
- see who's there and what they are planning, try to figure out who to tag along with.

But I let myself off the hook for that. I pushed hard enough and touristed enough yesterday. So, after hustling to breakfast I took my took my time and went to the gym for an light workout. Read in my room for a bit (that kindle takes up a lot less space in my bag then those 5 books would have, thanks you guys) and met Rob and Annmaria for a trip downtown.

Annmaria was in rug negotiations. We accompanied her to the shop, and along the way ran into Michael and Amy in the old Hippodrome. Annmaria got her beautiful blue rug and I ended up buying something at the shop as well, not a rug though. I do love those rugs, though ...

Then we wandered down the hill in this area to some artist shops, and Michael and Amy bought cool prints of dervishes by a local artist.

Back up the hill we ran into our carpet merchant friend Omer, who suggested a rooftop restaurant ... great views. We had appetizers and wine, hummus, eggplant, beans, a spicy tomato & onion dip and enjoyed the mellow vibe of familiar friends and the setting sun, the views over the Marmara and of the city.

Now time for bed ... our shows start tomorrow

Istanbul Day 1: Up and At 'Em

Cisco and I were in a taxi at 5:45 am to catch sunrise at the blue mosque.

Then we wandered a bit looking for breakfast, met a new friend down by the Marmara Strait

Walked back up the hills to a family owned cafe for breakfast. We had boreg, filo type dough with meat, spinach and feta, really really good, slightly sweet. We ate this with strong black tea.

After breakfast we found the blue mosque still closed to visitors so we got some coffee:


Now the Blue Mosque was open:

and across the park was the Aya Sofya, built in the 400's, an amazing feat of architecture, it had the world's largest freestanding dome. The blue mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet specifically to outdo the Aya Sofya (which had already been converted to a mosque by the conquerors in 1423). His architect couldn't do it without massive pillars...

A long walk over to the Grand Bazaar was broken up by lunch with this guy:

An awesome sheep meat sandwichwith onion, tomato, and lots of spices.
This is galata bridge, I walked across this to get home

After the mosque we stopped in the old byzantine cistern, built in the early 500's as a city water reserve in case of siege

A long walk followed, to the grand bazaar ... after a stop for lunch. (kokorec sandwich)
And then the spice market ... I got some pomegranite turkish delight.

After all this walking around I headed across the bridge to catch a cab home. My luggage was in my room, they cheerfully informed me at the desk. But it wasn't ... after a little searching they realized it was in rm 1503 not 503, so ... NOW I can change clothes, yay!