Friday, 8 June 2012

can i get an Encore?

Now i've been to germany and other parts of europe and seen how encores go down when it's time for a curtain call. Quite frankly i've thought it was ridiculous that even what to me appears to be the worst show ever (or close to it) still gets about a dozen encores. Continental audiences love to clap. It is perhaps the only time they get to be involved in a show...unless it's some kind of uber-leftfield, esoteric piece of performance art that questions the act of performing and being watched and is secretly concerned with how far they can push the audience before someone starts folding up their programme in to a paper aeroplane and throwing it onto the stage. I actually saw that happen once. I might have joined in but was too busy laughing my face off at how absurd the whole situation had become. Anyway, what i'm trying to say is that i'm not so comfortable giving more than say...2 encores. I just don't want to milk it and also like the idea of even when it's no longer the show you can still leave the audience wanting more...keep them hanging on even beyond the end and hold onto the magic as they leave. Something like that anyway. But on the other hand, staying there on stage and coming back again and again (and again if you actually did a good job) could be considered a nice thing to do for the audience...because they want to clap and show their appreciation. So i'm a bit torn as in what to do...

Today i did the first performances of Watch iT! 3 shows in fact...dress run, school show then evening performance. I'm pooped. I wasn't sure how the school kids would take it. There is a lot of spoken text in the piece but also good visual sections. I was worried that if they didn't grasp the text parts then i would lose them and might as well be playing to an empty auditorium. But it was cool actually. I think the parts that most enthralled them were the elements of pornography in the piece. We did a Q&A afterwards and the bulk of the questions were about that. The evening performance is where i found myself caught in trying to decide what to do with regards to this encore business. They gave a really good response. I came on for a 2nd time. There's more clapping and i'm thinking "no...surely that's enough???". I stuck to my guns and didn't go out. But, afterwards i felt that i might have done them a small injustice...jeez why the stress. So, in conclusion, all going well for saturday i'll do more than 2. Gotta give the people what that want after all...serious business.

bird's eye view

I saw this building and quite liked it. It wasn't piscine me off at least...

if only this was in time!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Plein des choses a faire

Well Paris is packed. Not a huge spread out city, but small streets and lots of people/cars/apartments = packed. And so was today. Kicked off with class as per usual. I gave them a little contact class. In keeping with the them of today i packed in a lot of methods and tricks so much so that we over ran by 30 mins. Although no complaints mind you. I will miss teaching these guys. They have given as much as i have so it's been great to work here for the week. The technicians arrived safe and sound with all the kit in tact and an unexpected toll fee of €32...nice. I will remember to put that in the budget should i make any more future forays into Europe. Anyhow, it is good to have the gang reassembled once more. We'll do a tech run tomoz and the first show is up on friday at 1430 for a school group. I have no idea how they are going to take it. I hope they are teaching them english.

This is the is that blue chewing gum or an apostrophe...or both?

The insides.
Et encore...Scotsmen and Frenchmen working together for the sake of art. Powerful stuff.
Several handshakes later i was acquainted with the management staff of the theatre and after an illegal moped ride to the place i decided to walk back to my digs via a boulangerie (mais bien sur!). The CND building itself is quite close to the performance venue. I am unsure as to wether or not i find the architecture of the CND aesthetically pleasing, but it certainly is interesting.

Le CND...does what is says on the tin.
Now i've spent the last few days teaching then rehearsing then eating and blogging and finally sleeping. I felt it was high time to go out and interact with the hoi polloi. An apt opportunity came in the form of a fellow breaker by the name of Willski. Apparently he has "bear" time on his hands (a colloquial term he picked up on the mean streets of london) and is having fine time living off the French social system...fair play i say. In other words he's got plenty of time to practice so that's what we did. Paris has had it's fair share of free spots in the city where dancers from all styles get down. When i first travelled here the hot spot was Les Halles. Since then it's moved on to La Defense and Gare du Lyon (du Nord...can't remember which one). but, for various reasons, the spots have continued to be shut down eventually. This time the local Parisien government folk have opened up an old city morgue to bring life (yes...indeed) to a more risque area of the 19th district. The place is called 104 (ou cent quatre) and it is basically a huge building housing artsy shops, concert stage, exhibitions and 2 large paved areas where they allow dancers and performers of all kinds to do their thing. We got down there at about 5pm hoping to squeeze in a couple of hours but the was a band sound checking for a concert so we had to wrap it up not so long after we got there. Determined to get his sweat on, Willski found us another area where we could continue. This time it was a little bit closer to the band...and it rocked man! Check it out these dudes are called Staff Benda Bilili and i think come from the Congo. I tell you there's nothing better than getting down to a live band especially when it's some hot african beats. Free training spot, free live music...pas mal. Here's a short get down....

Training at 104
So after we had both sweated enough, the staff did a final sweep and cleared us out. It was hot inside 104 but even hotter outside. As i mentioned this building had been open up in an area that local government felt would benefit from a bit of cultural rejuvenation...or as Willski put it "The place is pretty ghetto". Once we got outside the ghetto-ness was plain to see as some dudes had taken it upon themselves to create a make shift grenade launcher. Ok they weren't really grenades, just a very loud and more explosive form of a projectile firecracker. At first we couldn't tell where it was coming from. But by the third attempt these guys ran clearly out onto the street and looked to be aiming it up the backside of some poor member of the public. Actually it was at the police. Before you know it there's glowing ball flying towards a cop car which then explodes. It's not causing any real damage but i wouldn't use it to light your gas cooker. Next thing the cops are out of the car chasing these dudes down the street. Pretty ghetto indeed. I wish i had filmed the whole thing.

I wasn't too bothered about seeing the outcome of this event as i figured i could perhaps read about it in tomorrow's paper. It would be good practice anyway. We headed back chez Willski for pizza which i was assured would be excellent and an ice cold coke. Both items were received and dealt with enthusiastically. As i said Paris is packed and therefore you can expect the majority of city apartments to be spatially restricted shall we say. This indeed was the case but then i again i don't have a view of the Montmartre from my place.

Feeling sated we headed out to meet one of Willski's friends at Canal St Denis. En route we spotted some funky street art. So check it out...last night as i was trawling through the internet looking for what's going off in Paris at the moment i came across pictures of street art by this dude, Clet Abraham. This chap is turning street signs into quirky images and if you didn't pay attention then you probably wouldn't notice...much like the people smoking crack in the local metro station. So today i paid attention and lo and behold there was sign that had been allowed to manifest it's real identity just round the corner...

Definitely a sign from above.

Spotted this one on the way to Canal St Denis. Not sure if it's his work but worth a snap.
So we met up with Willski's pal and i had to ply my french tongue. it was a bit of a brain overload at times but i managed. We did pick up a fan in the shape of a rather inebriated fellow who claimed he was former Tunisian Police. At least this is what he continued to shout at us (even though he was about a foot away) while swinging about a plastic bottle of red wine...most of which was on his shirt. He must have taken a liking to us because as we moved on he decided to follow. Eventually, we lost our tail as he either got tired, got lost or just fell over at some point. 

Before we arrived at our final destination, Willski had been giving me the tour. Most places were described as "pretty ghetto", "rough" or "sketchy". I'm beginning to see that Paris is really a mixture of people and places both packed together in tight spaces, which probably makes for the best of times and perhaps the worst also. But we were having a pretty good time and wound up on rue du fauborg saint denis. Some pretty trendy bars and a few dodgy geezers were present and we even bumped into another of Willski's buddys who happens to big a big gun on the french bboy scene. One demi-peche later and it was time to call it a night for me. Thankfully i made it back in one piece through this pretty ghetto city.

just imagine "pont en" becomes "room 2"

Monday, 4 June 2012

plier et allonger

Boom! day 1 down. Aujourd'hui etait la premiere fois que j'ai enseigne la danse dans une autre c'etait chouette! Je suis arrive dans la salle et il n'y avait que deux personnes je pensais que comment est-ce que c'est le meme ici a comme chez moi?? Mais j'ai fait un erreur parce que il y avait douze personnes a la fin. Cool. So i was bricking it to be honest (i dont know the french for that) but once we got started and i slipped into tony-performance-teacher mode it was all good. A nice group so i hope they will be back for more tomorrow. The admin staff introduced me to the artistic director and course manager and we dealt with some money matters. The problem is once you start speaking french to french folk then that's what they use. So we're dealing with all this admin stuff in french. I'm kinda getting the jist but i don't think i signed away anything important...on verra!

I spent the rest of the day rehearsing. They have umpteen studios in this building so it wasn't too difficult to find one that was free. Watch iT! is coming back. it never really left but will be good to do it once more with all the set in play. The techies start their journey tomorrow. I keep racking my brain to think if there is anything i might have forgotten to leave out for them to collect. I nearly forgot half of my costume. Classic. That would have been fun and would have meant a trip to tk maxx...or the french equivalent. But no...i think it's all taken care of....i think....

Le studio...pas mal non?

This dude refused to get involved...lazy bones eh!
...and i can confirm that the hip bone is most definitely connected to the thigh bone.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

On commence...

Salut tout le monde! Donc, je suis arrive a paris pour le c'est chouette! Yes indeed...i have a nice little apartment in part of the Centre National de la Danse building. Not too much to report today. I had a wander about Pantin (the area of Paris i'm staying in) and found the essentials i.e. somewhere to get a coffee and somewhere to buy some croissants (of which there is an abundant choice but you gotta do a little bit of research...pour trouver le meilleur). I warn you now i will be switching between french and english for the duration of this outing. When in Rome/Paris eh! I need to get my brain and body in tune as i have some "Master Classes" to teach this week. Tres cool a mon avis...perhaps i am beginning to be taken seriously. Watch this space.

Chez moi pour une semaine.

bog standard a la carte in the kitchen