Tour Diary

New York & Ottawa 2017

First, we will present a mixed bill at the Joyce Theater in New York City featuring the pieces »5« and »On the Nature of Daylight« by David Dawson, »The Night Falls Quietly«, a world premiere by Joseph Hernandez and »Vertigo Maze« by Stijn Celis. Some of us will directly travel on to Ottawa, where we will meet the rest of the company to perform »Swan Lake« at the National Arts Center. Here are some insights to our daily experiences on tour:


November 28th, 2017


New York, New York! Here we come! Early in the morning, our journey started at the Dresden Airport. Destination: Big Apple. After a stop off in Frankfurt we flew over the Atlantic Ocean. 11 hours later and there we were: From the plane we could spot the metropole’s giant skycrapers and were already overwhelmed for the first time. At 1.30 p.m. North-American time we finally landed at JFK Airport. It was time to check in to our hotel and take a powernap – but not for too long: There are thousands of cafés and restaurants that are waiting to be explored, which was not the worst thing after such a long travel day. Some of us took the chance to watch a Broadway show but some of us just fell into the cozy hotel beds, sleeping off their jetlag.


October 29th, 2017


Sunday – free day! It’s time to explore the city! And there are so many ways to do so, even on a rainy day like this: Photoshoots, visiting museums and art galleries, eating in a typical American Diner or a sightseeing tour… There’s nothing you can’t to in New York City. At noon, some of us met at »Steps« to train and rehearse and to enjoy the special atmosphere in that beautiful dance studio on Broadway. Afterwards many of us met friends to catch up. One of them was Craig Davidson, a former company member of the Semperoper Ballett and now freelance choreographer. To round off the day, we treated ourselves with a delicious meal but then we were reminded of our jetlag. Now it’s time for our beds as we have to be well-rested for tomorrow: Our first day of rehearsals at the Joyce Theater!


October 30th, 2017


So many new impressions and so much that we have accomplished! This morning we headed to the JKO School to have our first morning class in the Big Apple. Afterwards we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed for the great opening night! We aim to present an outstanding performance. Meanwhile, at The Joyce Theater, everything was set up for the exciting day tomorrow: Our technicians installed everything for the show – lighting, sound, dancefloor and so on. The make-up artists set up what they needed, while the dressers prepared our costumes – no time for relaxation. In the evening, we couldn’t resist exploring the city that never sleeps. Some of us strolled over the brightly lit Times Square – a sight that you shouldn’t miss – others preferred it sportier and watched an NBA basketball match. At the end of the day we all fell asleep tired but also with some butterflies in our stomachs… Tomorrow’s the big day!


October 31st, 2017


„Curtains up, the show begins!” That’s what we heard for the first time this evening in New York. At that point, we had already worked through an exciting day. Of course we had to explore the Joyce Theater, the place where we’ll perform during the next five days. But way more important was our dress rehearsal. That’s where every piece of the puzzle was brought together first-time: All 4 choreographies with lights, make-up and costumes on stage. What a special moment! Especially for Joseph Hernandez, whose piece will have its world premiere tonight. After the dress rehearsal it was slowly getting serious: Last corrections, off to the make-up artists, warm-up, into the costumes and up on stage we go! One and a half hours full of emotions are what followed and then: Thunderous applause! Our opening night was a complete success! Let’s celebrate…


November 1st, 2017


Despite the exciting but also exhausting day yesterday, we started at 11 o’clock with our morning class at JKO School. Afterwards we walked to The Joyce Theater in order to discuss corrections. The afternoon was all ours – and of course we made use of that. Once more we took the chance to meet up with friends and go sightseeing in this versatile metropole. However, we always kept an eye on our watches: In the evening we prepared ourselves for the next performance in good time. Again, we felt some butterflies in our stomachs, though our joyful anticipation prevailed. Once again, everything worked out well and the audience was enthusiastic. This time, we were even a bit more relaxed as we had overcome the first excitement and most importantly our Jetlag. After the performance, the interested spectators had the chance to witness a »Curtain Chat« with our Artistic Director Aaron S. Watkin, where they could even ask questions.


November 2nd, 2017


We’re already halfway through! Today, we will be performing show number three out of five. This should be as thriving as the last ones as a matter of fact. That’s why we are eagerly working on: Again, we started our daily class at 11 o’clock, after that we went on with corrections. During our free afternoon, we all stormed the newsstands in order to read the first reviews on our guest performance. The next step after a bit of relaxation was preparations for our next show. Once more, the curtain opened and we enjoyed fascinating the audience. Another successful day comes to an end.


November 3rd, 2017


As our guest appearance here in NYC comes to an end, preparations for the upcoming tour are in full swing. It was still in the middle of the night in New York when meanwhile, back home in Dresden, everyone was wide awake. Our fellow dancers had a run through of »Swan Lake« in order to prepare for our performances at the National Arts Center in Ottawa. Our day in North America commenced with some change: Cynthia Harvey, legendary dancer, dance teacher and now Artistic Director of the JKO School, led our daily class. As usual, class was followed by corrections and a free afternoon. However, our Artistic Director Aaron S. Watkin had a special item on his agenda: He led a masterclass at Gibney Dance Center attended by young ballet students. Once more, we went on stage at the sold out Joyce Theater, which by now had become familiar to us.


November 4th, 2017


How time flies! Today, our last performance in the Big Apple took place. With a heavy heart we went to our last class at the JKO School. For the last time, we strolled through the streets of New York and still we are as fascinated of this dazzling city as on our first day. Feeling a little melancholic, we prepared for ourselves and faster than we could think of it, the show already began. One last time the curtain fell, followed by loud applause. Of course, we had to celebrate our successful guest performances! We did it! Now, we are looking forward to the exciting journey that lies ahead…


November 5th, 2017


And the journey goes on! In Dresden, our Soloists for »Swan Lake«, Ballet Masters, a Pianist and a Physiotherapist met at 1 o’clock in the afternoon to fly towards Canada. We, here in New York, were picked up at our hotel at 11 o’clock in the morning to be taken to the airport Newark. At 8 o’clock in the evening, we finally touched down and met our fellow dancers who had already landed two hours ago. All together, we had a spectacular dinner where had much to talk about: What happened in New York? And what is the news from home? This is how our first day in Ottawa ended.


November 6th, 2017


Today, our big group was ready for take-off! 33 dancers plus Ballet Master, Makeup-Artists and Dressers were on their way.  Through a sky full of clouds, they flew from Dresden to Munich and then on to Montreal. From there, the journey to Ottawa continued by bus. While they were still up in the air, the first morning class with Olga Kostritzky began for the ones who were already in Ottawa. Following this, our First Soloists went on with rehearsals in one of the studios at the NAC. The stage was busy with people as well, as our technicians were building up the scenery and arranging the light. The containers with all the different parts of the stage set and costumes had a long journey behind them, too: They were already sent off in September to be shipped to Ottawa. In the evening, the big group, who was left a little bit exhausted from the long flight, finally arrived. Semperoper Ballett is reunited at last!


November 7th, 2017


On a cold November morning – temperatures here are much more freezing than in Dresden – we struck off from our hotel to the National Arts Center. We are honored to be able to dance in this breathtaking glass building. Before we worked through the day full of rehearsals for our first performance in two days, we took class all together for the first time here in Ottawa. After this tiring day, we had some time left to explore Canada’s capital. Especially the countless great restaurants came very much to our appreciation…


November 8th, 2017


The countdown is on! Today, it was time for our dress rehearsal before the opening night tomorrow. Everything has to run like clockwork: Make-up, costumes, lighting, video projection, spacing… and of course the steps and emotions. During our lunch break we had some time to discover the city some more. Besides many skyscrapers and a huge castle, there are awesome parks to be found. That’s where we met some very trusting squirrels. A great opportunity to take some pictures! In the afternoon, our Artistic Director Aaron S. Watkin had an interview for the National Arts Center’s dance podcast – stay tuned for an inspiring conversation. After this work-filled day, tension increases. We look forward to finally performing on stage in front of a full house!


November 9th, 2017


Our day started with a delightful surprise, today: On our way to the studio, we were welcomed by a Swan Lake inspired bouquet and a card with kind greetings from the NAC staff. Freshly motivated we got to our daily class. After last rehearsals and make-up preparations, we eventually got to perform on the huge National Arts Center’s stage. During intermission, our ballet brochures were distributed and our calendars were sold while we caught our breath. The calendar, by the way, can be purchased through an e-mail to info@ballettfreunde-semperoper.de. Although we sweated through the two acts and were completely done after the show was finished, we loved dancing in front of a buzzed audience, which even rewarded us with standing ovations. After such an evening all the hours of rehearsals pay off and we are reminded why we chose our profession.


November 10th, 2017


With ice cold weather (the thermometer showed -10°C) we prepared for our second, also sold-out, performance. Once more, the audience was thrilled! Our personal highlight was the reception after our show, which was organized by the German Embassy in Ottawa. German-Canadian cooperation was honored and we enjoyed the party. It was a special moment for our Artistic Director Aaron S. Watkin who was born and raised in Canada. With the guest performance, he had the first-time chance to show his company »at home«.


November 11th, 2017


An exciting and successful tour comes to its end. Today, our last performance here in Ottawa took place. One last time, we told the story of the enchanted Swan Maiden and again we were acclaimed by the great Canadian audience. On the one hand, we are sad that the time here went by so quickly but on the other hand we are also already looking forward to travelling home and preparing for the Nutcracker-Season. We want to genuinely thank the National Arts Center for the magnificent cooperation and the amazing audience’s warm welcoming!


November 12th, 2017


It’s time to say goodbye. On our last day in Ottawa, we had plenty of time to stroll around in the city before we packed our belongings and flew back home to Dresden, in the evening. Our technicians, however, were still busy. Immediately after our last performance, yesterday, they started taking down the sets. After a long night shift, they stowed away the costumes and stage pieces, so that they can be shipped back to Dresden. Tomorrow, the technicians and our Tour Manager will return home as well, finally.


Thank you to our dancers, Sabine Bohlig and Frank Seifert for the pictures.