Update from Russia!

Short story: so far so good. Long story: We survived the trip out here, which ended up being quite long. In some ways it was a good thing, because we were a bit disoriented and also very tired and therefore able to get a full night's sleep on our first night here. The jet lag has been showing up for me not as problems sleeping at night, but in tiredness at unexpected times.

Once we got to Yaroslavl everything smoothed out. There are 5 or 6 translators for the festival, so we always have someone to go to for assistance. Meals in the hotels are easy and there is a grocery store right next to the Theater building where all the festival classes and rehearsals are taking place. The theater is fine and we rehearsed there Monday afternoon, figuring out spacing issues with Ricochet. We are also showing The Narrowing, and had some issues getting the second chair for that piece. Tuesday morning one of the translators showed up with a great chair at the Hotel and so we are good to go.

We had another rehearsal on Tuesday, and today a final one before our show tonight! I definitely feel the pressure of being choreographer for the 2 works, premiering, performing, etc. But I do think we'll do well. And I trust in the innovation and beauty of our work.

The whole group of artists is pretty great; maybe contemporary dancers who go to Russia are of a certain type - friendly, creative, resourceful. It's a mature group. So we are making some nice connections. Lots of folks from Minneapolis and New York. Also a couple Italians and some Russians.

Joel has taken to learning as much Russian as he can, approaching many strangers to practice what he knows. He has a great iPad Russian language app that he references regularly. We have been remarking today that it doesn't really seem like we are in a different country, perhaps because the trip was organized for us, or we 3 are still together, or there are many English speakers among the festival group. But anyway, I think it means we are mostly within our comfort zone here. The hardest thing for me has been buying bottled water, of all things! (We were advised to drink only bottled water in order to avoid picking up a stomach bug this week.)

Yaroslavl is just over one thousand years old. Beautiful churches all over the place, also lots of scaffolding and construction, unfinished projects, etc. We are 3 blocks from a huge river (the Volga), which within 1 mile meets up with another huge river. The confluence is inspiring.

Our first 2 days were lovely weather, followed by a lot of rain today on Monday. We can walk to the Theater in about 25 minutes and in 15 minutes to the other hotel where everyone else stays. Joel is constantly navigating potholes, uneven sidewalks, lack of curb cuts, construction boardwalks, etc., but he's very physically competent of course.

At a round-table discussion with the other artists this morning, we represented the "AXIS thriving from the meeting of SF Bay Area innovation and SF Bay Area disability culture" perspective. And also commented on the increasing popularity in mainstream media about both contemporary dance as well as disability, and how this popularity is another source of momentum for us (e.g. SYTYCD).

After our show tonight our main responsibility is teaching a workshop tomorrow. Otherwise we are free to take classes, or take time off. I'll be sure to fit in another run and maybe another playground workout before we drive back to Moscow airport on Saturday and hop on the plane.

Sebastian