Friday, April 13, 2012

Email from audience member 2

Dear Shane,
My name is Helen and I would like to express my thanks to you for the
wonderful show you made in Ashghabad! I lack English words to express my
delight and I guess there exist no such great words in any language. So
marvelous it was. I attach a photo taken with the help of the camera of my
cell phone (that's why the quality may be far from being perfect)...You
might have had plenty of different photos with your fans, still I found it
possible to send you another one to remember our sunny Turkmenistan. Don't
you find this girl's dissatisfied face funny? I do, and I think that it is
radiant with joy when taken with her camera.
In spite of being dying after the concert and being practically torn to
pieces by people around you (may be that's why you don't face the camera)
you managed to answer my question about "Radiohead". When I heard the
voice of a singer during one of the dances I thought it to be "Home video"
(a band, similar to "Radiohead", but not so popular, though you may have
heard of them. Here is their official web-site if you are
interested). But they don't have such song, that's why I made a conclusion
that it was "Radiohead". You backed up my opinion. Thank you for that!
I again thank your whole team. May be, one day, somewhere in New-York or
elsewhere I'll watch your show again. I wish you to continue making people
happier by your dances. I equally wish you success in your creative work.

Yours sincerely,

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Sunny Turkmenistan


Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Airport terminals mostly

An email from an audience member

Hi Shane,
I just wanted to thank you for the great show you guys performed in
Ashgabat. I love any form of art especially the one that people
perform. Unfortunatelly, there are not such performances in our
country and I doubt we will have in the future.
Best of luck,
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

I'm big in Ashgabat.

Well this has been quite a start to the trip. From napkin flowers at breakfast to exchanging music with young English students, to teaching a workshop to 200 orphans, to being the first (and maybe the only) American dance company to perform in a country where their own national identity and culture is so strongly enforced that outside influences are strictly controlled, shaking hands with ambassadors, to taking hundreds of pictures with excited people who have literally never seen anything like what we did last night on stage. And I mean never.... They've seen what Hollywood has produced but live performance is quite a different thing and contemporary art that has meaning beyond spectacle is quite another.
There was skepticism at how we would be received at first and even at the top of the show there was apparently still some hesitancy as to what was happening on stage but Sean's brilliant and subtle use of humor broke down all cultural barriers astonishingly quickly.
I wouldn't be surprised (and this was confirmed by some of the English language students who volunteered to help out backstage) if there was a small trend of wearing horn rimmed glasses in at least the Ashgabat youth culture. Shane Dennis Rutkowski bringing pub tricks and 90s nerd/alt rock fashion to the world.
I could go on and on about how fulfilling and rewarding this experience has been but I think you get the point...
What I will say is this
We've changed things.
Next stop Almaty, Kazakhstan.
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Location:Somewhere in the air between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's a yurt and we're in it!

Here's. My pre show recap of this week in Turkmenistan....
Since I can't access the blog online I wasn't sure if my last post went through which became a good excuse for me to slack off on the blogging and just use instagram.
So we arrived Saturday at about 3 or 4 am from Istanbul then waiting to get our visas and went through more security (where we found out that a few people's luggage didn't make it.)
My little carry on bag which I checked did... Phew.
Update: after a couple days they got their bags

Anyhoo we drive into the capital under a giant full moon and see an impeccable clean and empty city of gold and white marble and fountains lit up like las vegas. Palatial opulence abounded.... The rooms had their own works of art individually lit in them.... You get the point. See the previous post.
I stayed up and battled with the Internet discovering that they slow down the speed to next to nothing in the predawn hours. Timewarner does a similar thing during peak times to save bandwidth ....
Then I ate breakfast which I wont recount every meal I ate this week but the diet is no different that the one I eat at home except with a lot more lamb. Eggs meat cheese and coffee. Rice and a meat filled donut at one point.
You read that right.
Meat donuts.
Also we had lunch in a yurt.

So I've been loving the food and I feel great although the smog and dust has been a little hard to get used to.
Sunday we went to the national museum where we saw the worlds largest carpet weighing 2 tons... And other archeological finds the last 7,000 years or so....
Then we went to the ruins of a famous mosque...

SundayMonday and Tuesday we taught workshops first at the local sports exercise and movement center where they teach yoga and dance and sports and what not. Then Monday was with the local folk dancers who do traditional turkmen dances... And they taught us the wedding dance which although it's thousands of years old I secretly hope its just become the equivalent of the electric slide.

Tuesday we went to the national ballet school and after an amazing warm welcoming from the director of the center we went went to meet the dancers and walked in during their barre.
Boys on one side girls on the other. All in traditional ballet uniforms and their teacher giving bar in his full suit and tie.

Of course once Sean starting teaching they all loosened up and jumped right in.
I should probably mention that until fairly recently all dance and opera was completely outlawed. And even more recently it's only been traditional folk dancing and Russian ballet....

The teacher's tie was off and sleeves rolled up by the end as everyone was getting in on the action.

It was pretty great. Plus even without our amazing translator, maya, who translated all of Sean's classes I think it's hard to resist Sean's energy no matter what language you speak.

Today we took a day trip that started at 5am to the old city's of Mary and old merv.... Which along the great silk road are amazing ruins of huge mud brick structures and amazing domed mosques and tomes sounds like a very cute old couple to my american ears.

What else? Last night Becca, my roommate and I, did laundry in the tub and using the laces from my boots rigged a clothes line.... The hotel has a laundry service but we're trying to save as much per diem As possible.

For the first three days our driver was the amazing Sergei ..... He was a huge man with big meaty mitts for hands, who smoked skinny little cigarettes and had a gold tooth, and drove like a bat out of hell.
He even danced really well when prompted.

After seeing a piece we do called metal garden he was convinced that I had the same facial expressions as an old Russian film comedian... I'm assuming a sort of soviet buster Keaton.... But who know. It was a greatly appreciated compliment.... I'm gonna miss him.

What else. We stick out like sore thumbs but everyone has been insanely nice and mostly just seems entertained by us. It's a very polite society but no one is certain about how the performance tomorrow night will be received. It's a sort of social experiment for them.

The president who is the be all end all of power and national identity will be watching either a live feed or see a video tape later to judge whether or not they will have other modern dance companies in the future. While its an honor to be the first I hope we won't be the last.

Oh we also had two meetings with local American language students who were thrilled to speak with and meet natives like us. And I found the kids who loved rock and roll and we bonded over the foo fighters.

While I'm here to spread the cultural language of dance... The roses I make out of napkins have become a big hit.
I made one on the first morning for tony to give our waitress at breakfast and she loved it so much she wanted to learn to make it. So I taught her.
The next morning there were vases filled with paper napkins of every color in the breakfast room.

Spreading art through pub tricks.

Tomorrow we tech and dress and do a workshop for 200 orphans.
Then perform for diplomats and the ambassador and maybe even the president via video feed.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Doobre veecher

Oh and I'm slowly learning Russian.

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" "The difference between a madman and a professional is that a pro does as well as he can within what he has set out to do and a madman does exceptionally well at what he can't help doing.” ― Charles Bukowski