Three oceans, three days. Well maybe not quite but almost. The day after the show in Melbourne, we went on our first flight within Australia, bags packed to a bare minimum, as we had not been told that we couldn’t have any overweight on internal flights…
First stop was the North Shore to the city of Darwin, which on brochures will give you the impression that you will spend glorious days a la Riviera. Not quite so, as much else has seemed here. Still no sign of kangaroos. Darwin is a very small, quiet place judging from the “sight-seeing” I managed to squeeze in on one of the performance days. Arriving around midnight, it was a treat to feel warm air caress us as we got up the next morning. Here we had sold so well, that yet another extra show had been added for a total of three, two of which were completely sold out. It is most interesting to experience how the Australians react to the show. From what I am told by the “old-timers” of the company, some of the jokes that the Japanese really like fall flat here while parts that are not meant to be jokes at all get great laughs. For some of us it has meant that we have begun palying around a bit more with our material. After having my derriere on national television, I figured I might as well add that to the show and now enter for a variation by facing upstage, flexing my buttocks, separately and together before making a VERY slow sacheing walk to the upstage corner, keeping the deadpan look on my face. Judging from the whistling, giggles and guffaws I think it works, unless it’s because there’s not much to look at in Darwin otherwise…
On the final show day I managed to get some beach time in, looking out for crocodiles of course as instructed, but only being joined at lunch by a lizard, who seemed content with being a spectator. The water was like a warm bath and the tide brought in many interesting shells. Having made my mind up that I cannot leave this continent without some Aboriginal art, Momchil and I set out to peruse the galleries, which we were told Darwin is known for. At first it seemed very touristy until we came across a second hand bookstore with a gallery attached. Finding many interesting contemporary canvases stacked like rugs, I found it hard to decide, much less know what would be considered traditional and not just painted by an Aboriginal. As showtime was nearing I ceded to the sad thought that I would come back home emptyhanded and we were about to make our way out, when the lady who owned the place recognized us from the show the night before. We were given history and information about the artists and the art itself and at cost prices as a thank you for our performance.
The following day we flew via Alice Springs to Perth. There seems to be a pattern on this trip: We always leave early! 5 am buscall to get to the airport, only to sit for 2 hours in the hotel lobby in Perth waiting for our rooms to be ready!
At least we got to see Ayer’s Rock, albeit from 30000 feet up it doesn’t look that big. I am slowly getting used to the idea that I will see the Australian sights from afar or from inside a bus or a plane.
In Perth, my dear friend Andrew, had made introductions to a delightful friend of his, Marshall. Marshall is a harpist, who now works in the artistic administrative side of West Australian Symphony. So on that first night in Perth I felt a bit more at home again. The weather (rain) and the city had a distinct San Francisco feel at first glance. Later I felt it is more a combination of Portland Oregon (up and coming) and San Francisco (lots of character and characters). Marshall picked me up for dinner with Ivan, who is the new director of the ballet here, Enrique, a guest conductor for the ballet and the executive director of the ballet. The company aside, it was nice to have a decent meal, yet I did not know what was still in store for us. Marshall and co. decided to se the show the next night (we only had one here) and Ivan invited a handful of us to dinner at his house afterwards. Ah, oysters, pasta made by an Italian and glorious Australian wine. As much as the local food (meatpies etc) can be delicious, Ivan’s meal felt like we had just crawled across the continent without food or drink. Of course a good meal is only as good as the company and the conversation and it was a breath of fresh air to be able to have conversations about music, art and life that did not center on ballet exclusively. I was sad to leave Perth the next day, but look forward to meeting up with Marshall again when we are in Sydney, as our paths will cross again there, hopefully the first of many crossings.
The show itself in Perth was the hardest for many of us. We have been going non-stop, most of us are somewhat sleep deprived and I for one find it very hard to arrive into a new city and not try to see and feel a little of it. But dancing on very hard stages does not become easier and Perth’s was the hardest so far. I think I would prefer a sidewalk to that, at least the sidewalk looks hard, with some stages you don’t feel it until you try to stand up after removing the makeup and find that your legs can’t help you.
Here as in Darwin did we have most of the day off before the show, so I am still not sure when or how they think we can put the ballets together we have yet to rehearse, but it does give time to explore and I finally saw kangaroos.
About half an hour outside Perth proper is a Koala park, not over run by tourists, so in spite of the heavy downpours, Momchil and I went to visit the marsupials.. Feeding kangaroos by hand and tossing fish to pelicans is such a delightful pastime making you feel like a little kid again forgetting about the rain and hard stages. Koalas are as cure and cuddly as they look and fortune looked after us by making short dry spells for us whenever we needed to leave a canopied area for an inside area and for introducing us to Shirley, who is one of the keepers there. After taking the obligatory photos holding the koala Ginger, she said we had to see the babies. We could see them wrapped up and cozy in the adults’ protective grip, but that was not good enough for Shirley, so she went and got Stitch for us to see, though not hold. The picture is of Stitch, one of the youngest and a guy whose name escapes me, who is the oldest they have at 17 years of age. It was like seeing a grandparent and –kid, so very comfortable with eachother.
The trip almost turned sour when I got out of the back at the train station to go back to Perth and realized my camera with all the photos had fallen out in the cab. Frustration grew to annoying proportions as I spent 45 minutes trying to get in touch with the driver to have him come back to the station. Apparently there was no way for the dispatcher to contact said driver. I thought, maybe he is the only person left who does not own a cellphone or does not know how to read the computer terminal in his cab. I tried very hard to keep my cool and not be too attached to the material object and instead focus on the beautiful experience I had just had, but still I wanted to share it in more than words. At 3 am when we arrived back to the hotel after dinner at Ivan’s, it still had not shown up and I was going to take up Marshall’s offer to continue on my behalf to call the cab company. Double checking with the receptionist in the morning, she also offered and while I was sitting at a great little café having my “flat white” (coffee w/milk) my phone rang. The driver had found my camera lodged in his back seat and was on his way to me with it! I am not religious in the traditional sense but I sent thanks for getting it back and apologies for having had some not so nice thoughts to whatever powers that makes it possible for me to keep more of the koalas than my tactile memory of them.