Raked Stage in St. P, Watching Linda do Cry

July 20, 2011

Week 3
: I am in St. Petersburg, Russia, standing in front of one of the world’s most famous theaters, the Mariinsky. This is my second time performing in this historic venue for the White Nights Festival (not to be confused with the 1985 movie White Nights that featured two dance greats, Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov). The first time was in 2005, where a camera crew shadowed the Company everywhere to film Beyond the Steps. The documentary highlighted our performances in St. Petersburg and showcased footage from the beloved work Love Stories.


The stage at the Mariinsky Theater has a 3 percent rake, which means it has an upward slope from downstage to upstage. To some, that may seem like a small number, but try to dance a ballet like Anointed or The Hunt on a slope of this magnitude. It is the ultimate test of your technique and endurance.


Acknowledging that this is my second installment to this blog, I really want to reveal to you my truest self. You will come to find that I’m detail oriented. Therefore, I have to convey a few factoids that I learned. Did you know that St. Petersburg is known as the Northern Venice? And that it’s roughly on the same latitude as Oslo, Norway? This is where the term “White Nights” comes from. Due to such high latitude, the sun doesn’t set under the horizon deeply enough for the sky to turn dark in summer months. Dusk meets dawn, and it’s so bright that they don’t turn on the streetlights.  Why couldn’t this have been the case when I was a child? Growing up in New Jersey, I always had to be home by the time the streetlights came on!


During our run, I was able to sit in the audience to watch my colleagues perform and my wife Linda dance Cry. She has grown so much in this role since the first time she performed the full work a few years ago in Copenhagen. She is utterly vulnerable and exposes her emotional self to the audience. Brilliant.


Week 4
: Berlin! The Company hasn’t been to Germany in almost a decade. Needless to say, the Berliners are electrified about the Company’s return. There were a number of Ailey soirees in the city during our run. Judith Jamison was here for three performances, marking the first time she watched the company as artistic director emerita. And Ailey II artistic director Sylvia Waters graced us with her presence and checked on the new dancers who recently joined us from Ailey’s second company.


Also the “International Ailey Partners,” a group of friends and supporters of the company, visited with a jam-packed itinerary: a boat tour, dinners, watching an open rehearsal, and the U.S. Embassy Reception, which was hosted by ambassador Philip D. Murphy in celebration of Ailey’s tour of Germany. Dr. Guido Goldman, an Ailey board member, even sponsored a guided bus tour for the dancers to see Berlin.


During our performances of Revelations, we danced two encores on several occasions. And I had my first official rehearsal with new artistic director Robert Battle for In/Side this week. My first performance is scheduled to happen in Zurich, Switzerland on July 27. I hate to keep you in anticipation, but more to come in two weeks time.



Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims
at the Berliner Mauer East Side Gallery