Thursday, June 18, 2009

Parting Thoughts

Group photo at Tati's parents home where we were treated to amazing Peruvian desserts

I arrived back to DC yesterday and it was a thought filled flight back. Our experiences in Peru were wonderful and our performances unprecedented. I was struck by so many moments in Peru from the breathtaking performances of the company in Lima to the wonderful moments interacting with my friends in Lima.

Lovely after-performance party at he Gonzales home

I want to especially thank our friends at the US Embassy, Ambassador McKinley, Linda Gonzales, Paul Dugan, Vanessa Wagner and Jose Carlos Requena for their support and thoughtful guidance. I also would like to say a special hello to Johann, Milagros and Mecho, Qui Que and Desiree, Pachi and Bibi, Vera, Olga and Juan. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of performing abroad comes in the form of the personal friendships which are forged through the arts and which ultimately inform us as creative artists and bond us globally.

Sightseeing in Lima

I look forward to seeing everyone in Lima again next year! A huge thank you to all.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Opening night in Lima

Poster of the festival in our hotel lobby

What a wonderful opening night!

The sold out performance was incredibly well received and the US Ambassador, His Excellency McKinley was in the front row and took time from his busy schedule to attend. The US Embassy here is so supportive and post show I sat next to Mrs. Gonzales the Cultural Attache for dinner. She is so interesting and has an amazing dedication to art and culture. She is hosting a party for us at her home this evening.

The press has been overwhelming as well!

Dana during his interview with Olin Placido Larrazabal of dance blog

We are teaching another masterclass tomorrow which is also completely full.

Photos from the first master class

Dancers painting baskets on the night before the opening

There is no other city like Lima for contemporary dance!

More soon!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A meeting with the US Ambassador to Peru

Dana, Connie, Sara and Laura had a wonderful meeting with Peter Michael McKinley, US Ambassador to Peru, at the US embassy. Security was tight but once inside the compound we spent about 20 relaxing minutes discussing the arts, culture and cuisine of Peru with the ambassador. Ambassador McKinley is so gracious and loves the arts. He truly understands the importance of culture as a way to build bridges between our cultures. What a joy!

Cusco Performance

Sights along the way to the theater in Cusco

Our performance in Cuzco was great!

We had a very warm, large audience that was riveted by the dances. We were in the theater all day and night setting up for the show. As the hot high Andean sun drops so does the temperature and by evening we were in a freezing theater! The dancers are such professionals and of course our tech team was a amazing! Sara, Laura, Richard and Susan worked tirelessly to make sure that our music and projections went off flawlessly. Everyone rallies and pushes through to present the very best product possible.

While sitting in the wings of the theater watching the show, I was struck by the beauty of each of our dancers and the amazing professionalism that they bring to the company. After performing some people had to run into the wings for oxygen which was dispensed from spray cans to keep going. The altitude is a challenge here. I kept thinking that the dance is so magical an experience for the audience and unless you are a dancer, one would never know the amount of work that goes into every show.

Cuzco is a magical city and the opportunity to perform and interact with Peruvian artists here has been quite wonderful.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Magnificent Machu Picchu

Katie and Sarah at Machu Picchu

From dancer Sarah Halzack:

Yesterday was the day I had been most looking forward to - our trip to Machu Picchu. First of all, it is quite a trek to get there! We left Cusco on a bus which brought us to a train station. From there, we took a four-hour train ride through the Andes. This, in itself was pretty spectacular, with massive peaks surrounding us on either side. At many points during the ride, you can't see a single sign of modern human civilization - no houses, no power lines. It was a reminder of how remote Machu Pcchi really is and how astounding it is that the Incas were able to get there and then build something so functional and beautiful without contemporary tools or machinery.

After the train dropped us off in a small village called Aguas Calientes ("Hot Springs") we took another bus to get to the ruins.

When we finally arrived, the view was breathtaking. We walked to a high peak where we could look down and see the entire sight. We saw all the winding, intricate stone and the golf-course-perfect spreads of grass, all nestled between some seriously huge and truly majestic mountains.

Our tour guide explained to us that Machu Picchu was never a place for ordinary Incan families. It was solely inhabited by elite members of society, including high priests and priestesses. And that seemed to make sense walking around the site, you can really feel something spiritual and other worldly about it.

With the exception of the thatched roofs which have long since deteriorated we learned that nothing at Machu Picchu is restored or refurbished. I thought that was pretty impressive! It really speaks to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Inca people. I also thought that channels for running water and the terraced farming plains were interesting to see.

Then it was back to Cusco to rest up for our show! I think all the dancers agree the lack of oxygen at this high altitude will be our biggest challenge. Still, I know we will do our best and put on a great show.


Florian makes friends with one of the llamas that roam the ruins

Miyako and Shu-Chen strike a ballet pose

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Arrival in Cusco

Hi Everyone!!

We arrived in Cuzco Tuesday, after a 20 hour trip from door to door of our hotel. With slight weather delays and tight security checks, I seemed to always be the last one on all our planes! Luckily we all made it here to Cuzco.

The high altitude here allows for clarity of distance and beautiful Andean views. It is warm in the day and very cool at night, much like the high desert I grew up in as a child in NM. But Cusco is almost double in altitude, so for the first day I thought I would just sit and not move everytime I tried to walk up a hill. It takes days to adjust.

After beginning to acclimate to the high altitude which affects the amount of strenuous dancing you can do as well, we taught a wonderful master-class to local dancer, actors and acrobats at the Kusikay Theatre. They were great movers, very engaged and interested in new forms of movement. Their physicality was awesome! Many people were from a local show that I am going to check out their show Monday night after our show on Sunday.

Yesterday we rehearsed in the theatre and Sarah, Laura, Richard and Susan began work with our DVD projection needs and tweaked the music into the wee hours of the night. They are tireless in their commitment!! Thank you!!!

Our light designer on tour is my old friend Qui Que who I met in Lima years ago. He is bilingual and so talented in staying calm and getting the job done. He begins work late tonight focusing lights.
Yesterday Renzo our host helped us buy baskets as props for one of our dances from a great lady at the local market. Renzo has been great to take care of us as we manuever from rehearsals thru the city. He is a very good dancer and artist as well.

Today many of our group are going to Macchu Picchu. They just left the hotel and now I am going to run to get ready to go to the Sacred Inca Valley with Kelly. It is one of my favorite places in the world, especially the open market at Pisac.

More soon, tomorrow is a long day!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

DTSB&Co heads to Peru

Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Co. are off again to distant lands! This time they are headed to Peru. The first stop will be the city of Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire sitting 11,000 ft above sea level in the Andes.

On June 9 the company will head to Lima to open the 21st International Festival of Dance at the North American Institute of Peruvian Culture in Lima. The company will perform the highly-acclaimed Hyphen and Chino Latino on June 10-12, 2009. The festival is one of the biggest celebrations of art and movement in Peru. This tour is supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the US State Department.

Follow along as the company teaches, performs and sightsees in the land of Inca warriors and Spanish conquistadors.