| Carmel, CA | 10.12.16 (but really 11.4.16)
The blog now marks what we would roughly call the halfway point of our tour. How do we commemorate this somewhat daunting landmark?
We work out.
Or rather, Ramona Kelley does. I walk with Ramona to yoga and opt to sit and sip matcha while she warriors her way through. As I take more days off than I usually would this week, flirting with burnout and feeling a little sick of myself in spandex, Ramona keeps up a remarkably consistent regimen. She is the reigning queen of cross training on this tour.
Ramona, a seasoned traveler, has made finding places to take class away from home an essential part of her routine. Whether we’re busing up and down the west coast or stranded in East Lansing, Michigan, she will scout out the best – or most interesting – studios in the area. So I’m excited to share this post with my friend and tour sister, who will join me periodically on the blog to share some of the experiences she’s collected (everything from Spartan yoga in Speedos to her first accidental class at my mom’s dance studio in Minnesota) while keeping on top of her training on the road.
Take it away, “Rah-moooh- NAH!” And… to be continued. – KG
| GUEST POST: RAMONA KELLEY |
The moment happened in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The setting: a gigantic empty ballroom in the luxurious Eldorado Hotel, carpeted in ornate paisley with remnants of the previous night’s food and drinks crushed and ground into the floor. Kaitlyn and I were working on #11- an intricate movement we sometimes call ‘the buffalo’ or ‘going west.’ We were at the beginning of a self-initiated (i.e. no ballet master, just us in this room) rehearsal of Twyla’s “The One Hundreds,” an incredibly difficult piece, performed in silence, which demands perfect harmony between partners and unwavering memory recall. Our performance was to take place in a few days in Beverly Hills, and KG and I (first time partners in crime for this piece) felt panicked about lack of rehearsal time, so we took the moments we had very seriously. A hotel employee walks into the room, and there we are doing what can only be described as a complicated unison hopscotch, complete with circling and flailing arms overhead. We both looked at him, but continued with absolute dedication. I can’t begin to imagine what went through this man’s head- did he think he stumbled upon the rituals of a two person cult? He stood still, awkwardly stuttered and left. However, nothing was going to stop us from running the remaining 20 minutes of this incredibly difficult work. We laughed so hard it was difficult to tell if we were more covered in sweat or joy-induced tears as we finally concluded the piece. Yes, I think that was the moment I realized how strong my kinship is with Kaitlyn. We laughed together, and we danced through it. Danced hard. It has been an incredible adventure to travel (and basically live) with her while touring with the Tharp company, which certainly has come to feel like a family. It has been a distinct privilege to get to know her and be continually inspired by her as a dancer and an individual.
I am a New York-based dancer, but have spent much of my performing career on the road. There are so many things to be grateful for on tour, but it can also be emotionally and physically challenging. First of all- it is exhausting and uncomfortable to travel once (or twice, or three times…) a week, especially if your body is simultaneously attempting to recover from last night’s show and prepare for tonight’s. Add to this the inexplicable feeling of transient unease, in which the blur of airports, buses and hotel rooms make you miss home more than ever. I knew I would miss New York the first time I left on a year-long tour in 2011 with Twyla Tharp’s “Come Fly Away,” but I didn’t realize exactly why until our first performances, when it became apparent how much I am truly a creature of habit. KG and I share this trait. Like many dancers, I like to eat specific things for breakfast, specific snacks before and after a performance, and of course, I like to take certain classes with certain teachers to train and keep my body feeling both strong and loose. Dancing “Come Fly Away,” I felt very fortunate that our company provided daily ballet class. But every once in a while there would be a short travel day, or a day off, or a day our company just couldn’t find a proper studio in the morning and I began to seek ballet, yoga, or Pilates classes in whatever city we were in. Sometimes these classes were inconvenient to get to or not exactly what I expected once I was in the studio, but I began to look forward to meeting teachers, dancers and yogis in their ‘homes.’ I missed the classes I loved in New York, but it was comforting and inspiring to be a guest in the local community. The second time I toured was with Phantom of the Opera (25th Anniversary Tour), and seeking out local classes, especially ballet classes, became a main focus of my traveling adventures. Working as a dancer in this show was unlike anything I had ever done. Being in a musical felt incredibly foreign to me, and while becoming part of a company filled with singers and actors (as well as dancers) turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my career, I felt out of place at first. When we finished rehearsals and hit the road, my unfamiliar job created an entirely new sensation of ‘homesickness.’ Discovering the local dance scene, making my way to a barre every morning to do my plies became my way to feel like myself. It was often scary to walk into an unknown studio and take a class I was completely unfamiliar with, but I met some incredible teachers and artists hard at work in small corners of the country. It sounds very corny, but I re-discovered that for me, dance is my ultimate ‘home.’