Sept 18th at 11am and we’re leaving Austin, TX – all 32 of us which includes dancers, crew and staff. After a 3 hour flight we land at Newark airport outside New York. Our international flight was departing from a different terminal so we found the subtly marked hallway that led to an unimpressive stairway that led to the shuttle bus to terminal C – our home for the next 7 hours. We ate lunch and walked around. We ate dinner and walked around. It is a very big terminal and we saw it all. It seemed wherever we walked there were Ballet Austin dancers wandering the halls in a different pattern from ours. Eventually we joined the BA colony surrounding the battery and computer charging station near our gate. Next we went through a second security checkpoint – special for passengers flying to Tel-Aviv.
At 11pm we departed Newark for the 10+ hour flight to Tel-Aviv. If there was any trepidation about the distance and time that separated us from our destination it was apparently relieved as evident by the sight of so many of the dancers interfacing with the touch screen of movies, television shows and music available at every seat. United has lots of TV and movie options on the screens in the back of the seats. Of course when presented with too many choices I was a bit paralyzed. Finally, I chose a few episodes of “Elementary”. We were served dinner and then breakfast. It has been forever since I had airplane food. It wasn’t bad – or maybe I was excited by the retro aspect of the compartmentalized food. Most of us slept. It was very quiet – and dark.
When we landed I was prepared for drama with customs… Let’s say over prepared. Our group seemed to be the only foreigners on the plane so there was no line. Once the front folks (thank you Cookie, Orlando and Ashley) explained why we were coming to Israel the rest of us got questions like “What airline did you fly on?” No one wanted to look at our luggage. We were greeted by Lital (the logistical genius who made this trip possible) and Isi (Albert’s producer) with a sign with the Ballet Austin logo, a splendid way to arrive anywhere.
We met Samir, our bus driver, and traveled one hour plus to the walled, medieval city of Akko. Our hotel has a crusader era aqueduct running through the lobby leading to a cistern in the courtyard.
We are in Old Akko with a recorded history reaching back 4,000 years. It is a remarkably mixed city with signage in Hebrew , Arabic and a few in English for the tourists.
After check in and a bit of breathing time Samir drove us to Morganfeld’s restaurant to eat with the members of the western Galilee partnership. Albert Ben-Shloosh greeted us at the entrance. It is unbelievable that Albert’s dream of bringing Light / The Holocaust & Humanity Project to Akko is a reality and we are here. The food was delicious! I now know I have never really had hummus. But the most beautiful moment of the evening… was when they brought out a brazier of meat and Albert called over to Bill Sheffield to say that the steak was for him. We knew we were very well taken care of.
The past few weeks, our Company Dancers have alternated between rehearsing the siren-filled Light and joyous Nutcracker. If you, friends or family are in Miami, you will not want to miss this:
“Art can only start a conversation; people solve problems. But hopefully art can be a catalyst to get people thinking about things in a way they don’t ordinarily.” – Stephen Mills in this Associated Press article.
Below, watch our two :30 video promos, “From the Darkness” and “Into the Light”:
For tickets and information, please visit the Arsht Center‘s website.
From cats that play dead to dogs that wear scarves, our dancers’ pets are almost as diverse as the Company members themselves:
Orlando Julius Canova
Pet: Lia // Dog
Age: 8 years old Lia acts about as far from 8 years old as she can get. Not only does she bound around the Ballet Austin offices with the energy of a puppy, she loves to swim and roll around in the water. When Orlando moved from Chicago to Texas with Lia, it was too hot for her to fly in the pet section of the airplane. So, instead, Orlando and his mom took a 2-day road trip down to Texas with Lia in tow. In the words of his mom, “This dog better live forever.”
Ashley Lynn Gilfix
Pets: Samson // Dog and Desmond (Desi) // Cat
Age: Samson is 4 years old; Desi is 8 years old Orlando isn’t the only one who brings his dog to work: Ashley’s dog Samson is also a frequent visitor – getting treats from the front desk before running back to the locker room where he is crated during rehearsals. Ashley’s cat, Desmond, is also a performer – this big kitty loves to “sing” and is definitely the boss of the two pets.
Anne Marie Melendez & Paul Michael Bloodgood
Pet: Cordelia (officially “Cordelia Chase Bloodgood”) // Cat
Age: 8 years old Adopted just before Paul and Anne got married, Cordelia is more like a dog than a cat. In addition to running to the door when Paul and Anne come home, she also has a bag of tricks that includes sit/stay, shake and play dead when Paul shouts, “BANG!”\
Pet: Bowser // Dog
Age: Almost 2 years old Bowser, a huge snuggle bunny with an extreme overbite, is friends with a few of the other dancers’ dogs – particularly Samson and Stella (see the end of this post). Happy and energetic, Bowser loves to play fetch outside, but hates giving back the ball. According to Chelsea, he is definitely a mama’s boy – even if his dad disagrees!
Pet: Chibi // Dog
Age: 2 years old For such a tall dancer, Chris has a very small dog. Fittingly-named, “Chibi” means “little person” in Japanese. Chris got Chibi from a local breeder, despite originally setting out to get a different dog. When Chris arrived at the breeder, however, it was Chibi who was the most interested and playful of all the puppies. Later that night, after Chris took Chibi – then only the size of an iPhone – home to his new house, she curled up on his foot and promptly passed out. Love at first cuddle.
Pets: Tucker // Dog & Dudley and Scoot // cats
Age: Tucker is almost 8 years old; Dudley and Scoot are 1.5 years old Beth rescued Tucker almost 7 years ago during a road trip to California, and later adopted her two cats (Dudley and Scoot) to help keep Tucker company when she’s at work. Tucker is full of energy and loves to go along for bike rides with Beth in the mornings. People often mistake him for a puppy because he’s so wiggly and affectionate. Dudley and Scoot are convinced they’re dogs, too, and according to Beth they love to follow along on walks around Town Lake.
Pet: Stella // Dog
Age: 1.5 years old Kirby’s dog Stella, a brindle boxer, is filled with energy and constantly has love to give (usually with slobbery kisses). A social butterfly, Stella loves trips to the off-leash dog park in Kirby and her husband’s neighborhood, as well as weekend trips to Red Bud Isle, Zilker and Turkey Creek.