Story goes, we’re touring China with Swan lake. We had two casts for the performances, meaning that half the company danced it one night, then the other half the other. Again meaning that we had about every second day off.
But one of these off-days, I was called in for a show with the other cast. One guy ate some fancy chinese food the day before, and was.. ehm.. caught up in the toilet, to put it nicely. He had understudies on most parts, which meant I only had to dance about 15 minutes in the beginning of the first act. But I had to be there all until the end for the bows. So what did I do after my 15 minutes in the spotlight? I found a nice couch behind the stage, and lay down to catch some well deserved sleep – after all, it was my day off.

Little later, I woke up by a small chinese man standing over me. He said something, almost screaming, in chinese, and I was sure I had done something terribly wrong. In the middle of a sentence, he suddenly left, leaving me behind with the feeling that I disrespected their theatre by sleeping there, or something down that road.
He was gone for like five minutes, just enough time for me to get up from the coach, and try to remember how to say sorry in Chinese. I even practiced a little bow, to show him I didn’t mean to do anything disrespectful.

When the man came back, he was carrying something, but I was too obsessed with how to apologize, I didn’t realize what it was. Me stumbling something I’m sure was not Chinese, he, not understanding I’m trying to apologize, suddenly grabbed my shoulders, lead me back to the coach, and told me – with arms and gestures – to lay down again. Completely confused, I did as he said, fearing the worst..

Turns out, he was carrying a blanket. He put it over me, put a hand on my head and said, in an english which gave me the impression that he had practiced it the same way I was trying to apologize:

Here cold. You sick.

Then he left. I never saw this nice little Chinese man again, who saw me sleeping in the theatre, and got all upset I was not covered in a blanket in the cold wings of the big stage. But it was with a smile on my face – and covered in a blanket – I went back to sleep, waiting for the curtain calls, 3 hours later.
Do you have a story you think would fit in my new column “Life on the road”? I’d be thrilled to hear them! Post a comment, or drop me a line on mail – you find it on the “contact me” link in the main menu. Until next time…