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After days and days of rehearsals and travel, The Washington Ballet is finally hitting the stage tonight in Turkey at the 9th Bodrum International Ballet Festival! The trip so far has been full of amazing new experiences, and I cannot wait to share our performances with the wonderful people of Turkey.
The festival has hosted a few other companies in the past few weeks, and I can tell that people are excited to see our "Rock and Roll" program that we performed during our 2010–2011 season in DC. "Rock and Roll" includes Christopher Bruce's Rooster, Trey McIntyre's High Lonesome, and Septime Webre's Fluctuating Hemlines. Since we are here for only two performances, I have tonight off, and I will dance in Fluctuating Hemlines tomorrow.
After arriving Monday night, we had Tuesday off to rest and recover from jet lag. Sahir Erozan, the owner of Maca Kizi, a resort outside of Bodrum, (he also owns a restaurant in DC), hosted the company for lunch and swimming. The resort had a deck wrapped all around the property; you can jump off at any point into the cool, salty water of the Aegean Sea. We were served plate after plate of amazing grilled vegetables, meats, tomato salads, and baklava. I am really enjoying stuffing my face with all the amazing food out here. It seems like at every meal, you finish by enjoying a plate of fresh melon.
The festival is held in an outdoor amphitheater inside a courtyard of the Bodrum Castle. Although there are a few challenges that come with dancing outdoors, the venue is pretty incredible, and we've been able to make the program work on the stage. Our class was in the late afternoon yesterday, and because the sun was heating up the floor, the stage was so sticky, as if the marley was melting. Our performances won't begin until 9:45pm, because the floor needs to cool down after sunset, and the last call to prayer will be finished by then. Between the hustle of street vendors, loudspeakers outside of the mosques announcing the call to prayer, and techno music coming from the three nightclubs on every block, the city of Bodrum never has a quiet moment. Even during dress rehearsal last night, you could hear the music and see flashing lights from outside the castle walls.
During our lunch break between rehearsals yesterday, I took a walk around the outdoor market behind the castle. I loved seeing the locals out having fun and shop owners eating with their families at dinner tables outside their shops. The market was open-air, but stringing across from shop to shop were vines shading the market area. I definitely need to go back there when I have more time to browse. Hopefully, I will be able to take a day trip to Ephesus which is not too far outside of Bodrum. It is pretty crazy to think that I have the chance to visit the place where Paul addressed the letter to the Ephesians that is in the New Testament. Although DC is full of rich history, being out here where so much has taken place is a whole other experience.
Our opening night tonight will be followed by a reception with some of the board members, donors, and fans of The Washington Ballet that came with us to support the company and enjoy the festival. The show won't even end until after midnight, so I am guessing I won’t be able to make it to breakfast in the morning at the hotel, which I have only been able to have once (thank you, jet lag). I am so excited to see the show tonight and can't wait to share more experiences with you all after my performance on Friday! Wish me luck, as I hope not to get blown off the stage by a gust of wind in the middle of a double tour.
Photo: Dylan Ward (left) rehearses with fellow Washington Ballet member Jared Nelson at the amphitheater in Bodrum, Turkey, where the company will give two performances.