Saturday, June 4, 2011


Well… damn!  Today was quite a day.  The morning started off with our first dance class.  I don’t even want to think about how long it’s been since my last dance class, so to say I was a nervous is something of an understatement.  In past years the teacher has been a woman named Larissa who is a former prima ballerina from the Bolshoi, but unfortunately her husband has fallen ill, so we have a new teacher with whom our professor is entirely unfamiliar, so it was a big question mark going in.  It turns out we have this fascinating man named (I think) Рэнард (Renard – yeah, it sounds like the French word for “Fox”… and of course he’s a ballet dancer, so he kinda is a fox.  A little skinny, but hey).  He took us through some exercises at the bar, and these went surprisingly well in my opinion.  I felt a lot more confident than I expected to, and I think overall he was pleased with the whole group.  Then he decided to teach us some rudimentary Russian folk dance steps, which did not go as well.  The steps were simple, but I have to say, I felt like we were moving in a completely different way than I’m used to.  There’s something about Russian dance that comes from their souls, and it’s just not in mine… yet.  Perhaps after tonight’s metro excursion, I’m a few steps closer.  But more on that later.  We finished out the class with some contact improv, which is not really my cup of tea, but I suppose that’s a good thing – pushing myself to do new things or re-approach old things. Lunch was another day, another plate of buckwheat and vegetables at the MXAT cafeteria.  Today my fellow PhD student and I sat with our professor to get the low-down on the shows that we would be seeing over the next week.  My head is spinning thinking about all the amazing theatre we’re going to see!  And I am now on the hunt for this monthly publication which lists every show at every theatre in Moscow for the entire month of June.  It’s in Russian… but it’s super awesome.  The box office was sold out today, but I’m hoping they’ll get more. After lunch we met with our Chekhov teacher again.  I just love that man more and more every time I see him.  He’s got this marvelously impish glint in his eye at all times.  We started out playing more of the same simple games to get us to expand our circles of attention and think like a group.  We even ended up playing Kitty Wants a Corner, which is an improve game I hate because it has a tendency to get kinda violent, but it is great fun to watch.  During this class I had a moment that made me very proud of myself – I made a joke in Russian!  Our teacher was giving us a quick Russian lesson, asking each of us to speak the phrase, “Please give me the chicken.”  I was one of the last to go, and when he got to me, I looked him square in the eye and said, “Я не ем мясо” – “I don’t eat meat.”  He laughed, and asked me to say “Please give me the wheat” instead.  Joking in another language… I’m super awesome.  After our break, we sat down and talked a little about The Three Sisters, choosing which character jumped out at us as someone we could relate to.  I chose Olga – the oldest sister who’s a little more pragmatic, a little more cynical, and a little more able to use humor to cope than her sisters.  Oh yeah. While part of the group went to dinner at McDonald’s (ick), I headed back to the MXAT cafeteria for a dinner of more buckwheat before meeting half of the group to head over to the Сатирикон (Satiricon) theatre to see a play called “The Blue Monster.”  We had a theatre management student escorting us through the metro – our first time riding it.  Due to some miscommunications from the theatre, we were running a little late, and Polina ended up getting us off at the wrong stop and we missed the very beginning of the show, but we did manage to get in and settled just in the nick of time… not that this was very helpful in understanding the show.  This play is apparently based off a children’s book and adapted for adults… and it is wacky.  There is this blue monster… and then there are these two couples… and he does something weird to both of them… and then there are all these clowns… and then there’s this weird trapeze artist/dominatrix character… and a giant robot… and a turntable on the stage, and a pool that was filled about an inch during intermission and emptied in the course of a few minutes during the middle of the act… it was nuts.  The clown characters were fantastic, and really made me want to do some commedia.  There were some truly awesome bits.  The story was some sort of fantasy, and wasn’t terribly easy to follow, but I found that, as we approached the denouement, I was able to accurately predict what the outcome was going to be… though I couldn’t really explain why.  The show was this huge, amazing spectacle that completely captivated all of us, regardless of whether or not we had any clue what was going on.  And these people took what I can only call two and a half curtain calls, since the first one was soooooooo long and involved so many pieces. Now comes the really exciting part… the metro.  Since the theatre managers have an exam tomorrow morning, none of them could come meet us after the show to help us find our way back to the dorm… so I became the leader.  Polina had given me directions on where to change stations and such, but the stations are not very well marked, so it turned out to be quite the exercise, involving reading signage in Russian, and even stopping to ask directions from a guard in Russian military garb.  I think I spoke more Russian than he did English, so that was a challenge, but it got us where we were going.  I felt oddly comfortable as we took three different trains through five different stations.  I really love metros.  They’re so logical.  And we managed to make it back to the dorm… so I’m calling it a big fat win!  Woohoo!

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