Berlin Dance Tour – Post 1

On May 16th, Dance Victoria embarked on a 3 city European tour to Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm. Join guest blogger Dance Victoria’s Producer Stephen White as he sends us updates from abroad: 

Post 1: Berlin

Third time in Berlin in almost as many years. First as a tourist in 2010, second time at the invitation of the Canadian Embassy and this year co-leading, with my partner Bill, a group of 25 on a cultural tour of the city. The Embassy invitation came out of the blue. A call one day from a woman (Judy) in Ontario who had been working with her friend, a cultural attaché here, on a pet project to introduce three dance presenters to the way contemporary dance is supported in Berlin. It was Judy’s hope that we three presenters would be influenced enough by what we experienced that it would inform our practice and the practice of other Canadian performing arts presenters. I will say that the experience was wonderful for me and it has had an impact on Dance Victoria and the development of our long-range vision – but more about that later.

This time the city feels familiar. Our group is staying at the deluxe new Marriott Hotel in Potzdamer Plaz. This hotel is so new that the carpets throughout smell like they were installed yesterday. There’s a gorgeous pool and two saunas – one hot and the other hotter.

Lobby Atrium from www.marriott.com
Lobby Atrium from www.marriott.com

Last night, all of our tour members arrived. Many on flights routed through Frankfurt but others through London, Amsterdam and Paris. There was a great coming together and celebration in our suite starting at 8 pm. Bill and I had taken two extra days before the tour to get our bearings here and, most important, find the closest supermarket where we could buy the cured meats, olives, salads, fresh bread, smelly cheeses and more that we spread out on plastic catering trays and adorned with wooden-handled knives and Brazilian serving forks we had hauled in our luggage from Victoria. At a small table inside the door to our room I poured out generous vodka martinis, glasses of red and white wine and pretty soon the suite was filled with laughter and tales of delayed planes, airport treks and past Dance Victoria tour experiences. One of the delights for me is that several people have travelled with Bill and I seven or eight times to different world cities over the years. At these first night parties many spend the evening determining which trip they’ve been on together and then once that’s established – they recall mutual experiences. It’s a bit like old home week – friendships established over many countries and several years.

So we were off this morning, nursing a wee hangover. Bill at the lead and me bringing up the rear. On and off subways to the Pergamon Museum with its impressive recreations of a massive Roman agora and other classical courtyards – constructed with recovered stones and statuary from many archeological digs over the past hundred years. Tonight we are especially excited to be attending an off beat performance by the Berlin’s State ballet in Europe’s trendiest techno-club. This club, in a huge abandoned building in East Berlin has developed a reputation over several years as the centre of the counter-culture, with it’s all night parties, celebrated DJs, crazy and colourful lights and moving projections. The performance is currently the hottest ticket in town. The run has been completely sold out. We’ve told our group to dress down and be prepared for a few shocks. I’m excited to see it and will file a full report in the days ahead.

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch