In 2003 after a performance of our work Tracings which is about my family's history as plantation workers in Hawaii in the early 20th century, I was approached by a curator from the Latvian Opera house who was in the audience. In 2005 the company toured to Riga. It was our first time as a complete company tour in the Baltic States region. We were the first contemporary company to perform in a beautiful black box space that was built into the Opera House complex. We warmed up and rehearsed in a ballroom complete with chandeliers and a view of a snow covered square.
Riga is a beautiful city because many of the original art nouveau buildings still exist there and were not destroyed during the WWII. We taught classes throughout the snowy city because modern dance was fairly new to Latvia at this time and people were hungry to see and understand what it is. I have a great memory of teaching class at the Opera Ballet School where Baryshnikov originally trained. We lay on the floor and I slid down to the mirrors as I demonstrated the movement combinations I kept tripping on the sharp incline because the studios were raked with the same angle as many of the older stages of European theaters.
Riga is a city of Latvian culture at odds with new Russian values and aesthetics. It has a rich artistic history and a burgeoning artistic potential. There is a deep melancholia and reserved aspect to its arts aesthetic which one can hear in many Baltic musical compositions today. I look forward to seeing more dance come from Latvia and the Baltic States in the future.