Dance companies, some anyway, takes their shows to other theaters every once in a while, to expand their audience and show their works on new stages.

For the dancers involved, touring can be many things. In my new column, I will share some of my (and hopefully also others) stories from the Life On The Road.

I was lucky enough to be on some tours in my dancing career already. One of them was a 3 week tour visiting (every little shithole in) Germany. I danced with a Ukrainian company at the time, and were the one guy in our whole crew that spoke English. In advance, I thought that would be a privilege, being able to communicate between “our guys” and the people we met on our way. But what I soon enough came to discover was that my Russian-speaking friends really only needed to know two words in German to settle any problem: “Changing room” (as in: where is my) and “beer” (as in: where can I get a).

For my colleagues, knowing where we were was limited down to “Germany”, and they were quite fine with that. I was a bit more curious though. Asking the – ukrainian – driver where we were, he also were unable to give me a more specific answer. Turns out he didn’t know either, he just followed the instructions of the nice female voice coming from his GPS (which got us an extra 5 hours drive once because a map wasn’t updated, but hey – who’s in a hurry anyway?).

To find out, I made a little routine which I did every morning. I woke up in some hotel, went down to have my breakfast, and proceeded to whoever had the morning shift in the reception with two questions, no more, no less: “can I use the internet anywhere in this hotel”? Easy enough. The second question was a bit more unexpected, and usually triggered a conversation more or less like this:

Henrik: Where am I?

(small pause)

Hotel staff: You are in the reception. The breakfast is the second door to the left, and you can…

Henrik (interrupts): Thank you, I found the breakfast just fine. What I’m really wondering is, where am I? I believe we are in Germany. But that’s also where my knowledge ends. Care to enlighten me?

(second pause, little longer this time)

Hotel staff: You don’t know where you are?

Henrik: That’s exactly what I am trying to tell you. You see, I am touring Germany with a company. I finish a show at night, usually it’s midnight before we get back in the bus. Then we drive for hours, me sleeping. I vaguely remember taking my suitcase out of the bus and into your hotelroom, but I haven’t got a clue of where this hotel is situated.

Hotel staff: what kind of tour?

Henrik: I’m a ballet dancer. Care to tell me where I am?

By now, the hotel staff would either

– A: think I attended a serious party last night, answer the question and tell me about the refreshing effect of their sauna on the second floor (I’d love to, but we were always leaving in half an hour, right, and I could never take advantage of all the pleasures the hotels could offer),

– B: Think I found it funny to be joking with them, shortly say the name of the city and turn to their other guests (maybe not so friendly, but I got what I wanted), or

– C: find the situation hilarious, and start a long conversation about how interesting it must be working as a dancer on tour. Me loving conversations, this usually ended with a new friend on facebook, and the rest of the company waiting for me being late out in the bus.

As I’m sure you can imagine, touring Europe, America and China with a bunch of ukrainians gave room for more than one story, but let’s not blow it all at once. Check back later to Tights and Tiaras, an I’ll tell you another one!

Do you have any stories from traveling? I would be thrilled to hear them! Post a comment under, or drop me a line on mail – you find it on the “contact me” link in the main menu. Until next time…