Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Quick, quick, before the memories leak out, replaced by routine - 457 bicycle wheel rotations between my house and work, 36 stairs to climb, 4 desks squared off in a small room and endless amounts of keystrokes for five to six hours. If I'm lucky--90 minutes of yoga, 90 minutes of dance and several endearing down-the-hallway glimpses of hallie and allison practicing their salsa routines before they teach class.

Viktor, my hungarian friend, this is precisely why at least some of life must be documented.

The first person I talked to upon returning to Seattle was the barista that works at the coffee shop 25 steps from my house. This person lived in Budapest when he was a kid. It made wonder what web hungary will weave for me here in the PNW.

hold it! the past, the past, that is the focus of this entry.

At Florian, the studio that we rehearsed at for the second half of the residency we met Kati, a beautiful woman who was in charge of organizing several festivals including Tanc Kommando (Dance Commando) a weekend of outdoor dance actions all over the city. On Friday 9/4, we took a short break to watch a group of local dancers perform in front of a schoool in the obuda square. Frist act – middles school girls dressed in sort of naughty sailor outfits doing rhythmic gymnastic tricks to Missy Elliot’s ‘Everybody Lose Control.” It was confusingly provocative.

Second act – about 8 college-aged dancers in sweats strutted out and started doing what we assumed was a traditional Hungarian folk inspired dance that kind of reminded me of Riverdance. The tension between the outpouring high school students and the dancers exposing their vulnerable contemporary selves was building and I left to go to my favorite place to get espresso in a plastic cup that I could take back to the studio.

We ran the rough draft of “A Crack in Everything” for the first time later that day for Judit and Gy├Ârgy, the founder of Trafo. Nervous sweat poured through every inch of fabric on my body underneath Florian's weird florescent lights. At one point in the piece when our solos overlap, I make my way off stage in concrete slow motion for several minutes and I felt was if I was a spunge wringing myself to dry from the inside out. Though I'm sure there are things that improved in the dress rehearsal and shows, to date that run feels like it was the best to me. Judit said she would send feedback and Gyorgy said almost nothing about the piece. I may be totally off base, but culturally it seems like there is no bullshitting in Hungary, no compliment comes undeserved, or congratulations on how hard you've worked or how much you have put yourself out on a limb.

Friday, September 04, 2009

this blog is in need of more pictures. . .

today my I got a split on my left foot and had my first day of bleeding feet. I'm surprised I made it this long. I have a picture, but I don't think I'll put it up.

we talked for hours about economics with the director of trafo at the end of our 7 hour rehearsal and jumped over puddles and dodged lightning to get home in the thunderstorm.

no palinka on a beautiful terrace with charming hungarians tonight.

three days until show time.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The night after the circling bat, we slept in and took our first whole day off from dancing/rehearsing and working on the piece. Zoe and I made our way to the castle after stopping at the great market hall--a tourist trap to be sure, but still the most incredible market I have been to besides the markets outside of xela in guate. The two are not really synonymous, though. In europe practicality is constantly balanced with pomp and presentation. Tolerance for disorder or chaos of any sort seems much lower.

Fueled by poppy seed cherry strudel, we crossed the liberty bridge and eventually caught a tram to the foot of the castle.

The weather had turned on us, unfortunately. After a steady stream of gorgeous warm days, a cold front blew in and wind and rain thwarted some of the thrill of wandering around the castle’s majestic grounds. The views of the city were stunning and the scale of the built environment around us was un-relatable outside of being a five year old at Disneyland. This is the depressing reality of being an American in these sort of settings—the perpetual feeling that the whole thing is staged, that it is part of a set built for a movie or TV show, the depth of the history has no parallel that I can relate to based on what I’ve been taught in US history classes and what is built around me in the northwest. We are babies.

Desperate to get out of the storm, Zoe and decided to take a tour of the Castle’s labrynths and followed a long narrow staircase off of a side street into belly of Buda hill. It’s hard to explain the scene underground and again the lack of experience living in an old city/country betrayed my sense of what was real and what was not. The rooms were certainly real, but were the artifacts inside? Lowlit lanterns and a haunted house soundtrack came from speakers hung behind iron gates and hidden in old wells. In the Labyrinth of Other Worlds, there were “recreations” of human artifacts found 42 million years ago that were deemed Home Consumes and fake impressions of coke bottles and computers were embossed in the stone. We had had enough of the labyrinths but decided to first walk through the Labyrinth of Courage, an odd shaped room with no light and a slender cord to hold on it as you walked around the edges of the room. There were several seconds in total blackness where “the only thing to fear was whatever your mind made up” that was then interrupted by loud, cell phone light and flashlight toting germans that were given Texans a run for their money at being the most obnoxious tourists around.

When we came above ground the cold below the surface had penetrated to my bones and I had to retreat back to our house after a failed stop at the baths to warm up (they were closing early due to bad weather).

The next day (Sunday) it was back to the world of “A Crack in Everything,” and zoe and I worked for the entire day on the a duet in which we hold each other up by our hair. The agitation of the physical movment led us into several moments of seemingly unexplicable tension that resolved by the time we were at Judit’s eating homemade Hungarian pancakes. I asked her who taught her the skill of being able to flip a pancake and catch it on the skillet with one hand and she explained that it was something that everyone knows how to do, it’s like walking or tying your shoes. Her friend came over with wine and gin infused with bison grass (?) which we drank out of ceramic shot glasses.

The weather was nice again and we walked back up to the castle to take it in at night, wandering around up there for a couple hours before finally coming back home.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we started to run versions of the piece and record them and the roller coaster of emotion continued as we tried to make a million decisions about order, movement, lighting, video, music and costumes. Morgan sent us his compositions Tuesday night so that on Wednesday we had what felt like a semblance of a piece. Twenty-five minutes. Not bad, for two weeks of work. We ended this day by venturing off to find an osteopath that worked out of a community center on the outskirts of Buda and ran into our first real issue with the language barrier.

“Have you ever had a emury?” our doctor who spoke “perfect” English asked me after the two hour wait in which all Hungarians were asked in before us.


“an emury, a picture”

“oh an MRI, no, no I haven’t had one” I explained.

“why not?” he asked “Is this your first?”

“my first. . . ?”

“is this your first or was it later?”

“um, yes. . . my first” I said just to keep the conversation moving as he picked up my left knee and tried to use the head of my femur to put my pelvis back into place. My left leg had been two centimeters longer than my right leg when I walked into the office and when I walked out, it was the same length. He told me not to dance, to swim and to ice my back. I nodded in agreement, paid him about $25 and let zoe have her turn. Her left leg was also 2 cm longer. Hmmmm. . .

From here we tried to find a bus that would get us back to some place familiar and finally gave into the idea of getting a cab. Because we were in the middle of nowhere and no English, this entailed getting the doctor’s administrator to call her grandson who spoke English to translate that we needed a cab and call the cab for us. It was incredibly sweet of her to go to great these lengths to help us. This is part of the continual feelings of helplessness, gratitude, frustration and alienation of being not from somewhere. It’s a good perspective to get.