Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fish! Dance! Who could ask for anything more?

My apologies for the yonks it has been.

I spent the first half of April in Indonesia, mainly diving off a gorgeous boat in Raja Ampat and then living it up (well actually still diving) in Bali. There were pretty fish, ranging from the small and cute (pygmy seahorses), to the large and majestic (manta rays) and with a very close encounter with a large and bemused great barracuda at the USAT Liberty; and also non-fish excitement in the form of a whole congregation of stingless beautiful moon jellies that we snorkelled with and an unbothered little turtle hanging out in the current. This is all it takes to keep me happy as a pig in muck. Oh, and iced coffee. And far too much good Indonesian food. And indescribable natural beauty, karst islands descending into a preternaturally dead calm sea. And the grand old fun of standing up on a surfboard (on a very very very baby wave). And wonderful company. (And an onboard masseuse.) And general cut-off-from-the-world peace.

Back in Cambridge life continues; I've been drafting more papers. My supervisor seems to think I am somehow going to be able to turn these things into a thesis. (I only hope he is right, as my thesis word count remains at zero.) Work is alright, really -- I'm getting used to the whole writing malarkey. It is painful at times but I am perhaps getting the hang of it, now I just need to keep on doggedly doing it for the next 6 to 8 months or so and try not to go insane meanwhile.

The dance company continues as usual. Last weekend we premiered three new pieces derived from Dante's Commedia. They were really interesting for the company to do as for the first time we had external choreographers. One of the pieces was set in Purgatory and I can now claim to once have danced "Sloth" (for which I lay on the floor not doing an awful lot) and to very, very almost really have been a tree on stage (there is a perennial in-joke in contemporary dance about how it is, or isn't, mainly about 'being a tree') -- I didn't get to be a tree, but I did get to be grass in the Garden of Eden. By comparison the other piece I danced in, a Paradiso piece, was conventional, although danced entirely in silence with only the dancers' breath for synchronisation -- a real test of how well the company's dancers now dance with each other. I think it's showing, all those 9am Sunday rehearsals together week after week. The final piece, which I wasn't in, was choreographed by Vanessa Fenton of the Royal Ballet. Somehow the company seems to be moving up in the world, which is fantastic.

We move on next to a development period for a performance we will put on in November for the University's 800th Anniversary. It's nice in the meantime to be able to not rehearse quite so much and take class instead. I'm making myself go back to ballet -- that technique is irreplaceable. By now I know that all I really have in ballet is ballon and not much else, but I'm resigned to that now and can just get on with working with what I have! I'm also really looking forward to getting into a good contemporary class again -- I think I will restart my Saturdays in London to this purpose.

The weather has been kind recently, to the point of actually allowing for walks along the river and lazing on the grass in weekend afternoons. (More woe to the undergraduates who have a month of exam fever ahead of them before they can join us.) When the sun goes down I continue the long process of educating myself the philistine scientist by going to poetry readings and the opera (and in a similarly experimental vein somehow signing myself up to choreograph Gilbert and Sullivan in an open air theatre set on the cliffs of Cornwall). The precious work/dance/life balance is magically holding steady!