Letters from the Road: Swedish Style!

by Tamisha Guy

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Day 1

The 26-hour travel day was A LOT. Our journey consisted of two planes including a four-hour layover, a bus, a train and a five-minute walk to “Hotell Grepen” in Vara. The city of Vara is a small and cozy town filled with friendly people and quiet streets. The town is a bit dark but I soon learned that during the winter Sweden is fairly dim all day. It is going to take some getting used to. Each morning there were five people at the breakfast table, which I did not mind at all. Breakfast was pretty delightful. Nutella and turkey sandwiches were my go to. The company’s first performance was November 18th at a venue in Vara and it was truly a blast. The crowd was very receptive to Pavement and we even got a few screams and clapping during the performance.

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Day 2

The following day we all traveled to our next stop on the tour, Stockholm! Stockholm is truly beautiful. The large buildings, lights and insanely large crowds of people made me feel right at home. The Scandic hotel was fairly massive and luckily it was one door away from Dansens Hus, the theater in which the company would later perform. The hotel had a snack shop, bar and restaurant on the ground floor which meant that I did not have to go too far for food. Whoo! The first night I enjoyed a Caesar salad and a chilled Sprite.

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Day 3

The following day on November 20th, 2014, the company had the day off. The morning of the 20th I woke up fairly early. While I enjoyed a cup of tea I listened to my morning playlist, which is a mixture of Max Richter, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston and Jah Cure.

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In the afternoon Maleek and I were off to explore the city. There were a lot of sites near the hotel so we walked quite a bit. We spotted H&M, Zara, and the body shop, just to name a few. We could not resist so of course we did some shopping. We walked around for hours, also admiring the natives’ stylish fashion looks and the talented people singing or playing an instrument at the side of the street. It had a similar New York City vibe, which intrigued us. Our day concluded with a satisfying burger at a place called “Flippin Burger.” I enjoyed a cheeseburger with caramelized onions and lettuce, along with a cream soda to wash it all down. Yum!

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Day 4

The following day we had two performances, a school performance and an evening performance. Dansens Hus is a beautiful venue. The stage was grand and each dancer was able to have their personal dressing room. The walls were covered with one liners or signatures of past companies who’ve graced the space. I even spotted the signatures of a few friends. The school performance was quite interesting. The students were incredibly vocal and they did not hold back at all, often randomly clapping or making a remark at the end of a section. This was a new experience for me. The evening performance was AWESOME. The audience was extremely quiet but when the performance concluded the audience went mad, applauding and screaming bravo, bravo! Following the performance there was a nice reception for the company. We enjoyed a few glasses of wine, small hors d'oeuvres and engaged in great conversations with other guest.

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Day 5

The next day we had the first part of the day off and to follow was an evening performance. Matthew, Maleek and myself ventured out to an area called “Old Town” which is known as the hipster side of town. On this 20-minute walk we passed a great deal of Christmas decorations, carolers, and a few monuments such as the palace and the Nobel Peace prize museum. There was a Christmas shopping area, which to me was similar to the festive shopping area at Union Square in New York City. It was incredibly packed with people shopping their lives away. It was only right to join in on the fun so I purchased a few Christmas gifts for my family.

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That night the performance went well and the company added our names to the wall. The night was young so a few of us went out to experience the nightlife. Two people that currently live in Sweden, a native and another that moved from Italy joined us to kick off the festivities for the night. They were extremely friendly and willing to show us around. We ended up at a club called Strand, which was super fun. The music ranged from hip-hop to pop and a little reggae was thrown in the mix. We all danced the night away and even made up a gesture phrase towards the end of the night. Lol. The night was a success and the following day we were off to our next stop, Gothenburg!

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Day 6 & 7

I was beyond excited to head to Gothenburg because I would get the opportunity to see a great friend of mine who’s birthday happened to be the day before we performed. Gothenburg was only three hours away from Stockholm so we got in fairly early. I was a bit exhausted so I stayed in until dinnertime. The following day we had the day off and my friend invited some of the members to take class with his colleagues. It was his birthday so I was beyond excited to see him. The class was amazing and it was so refreshing to be in a studio again.After class he gave us a tour of there beautiful facility, which was massive.

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As we walked outside I saw a glimpse of the sun and I was beyond excited, smiling from ear to ear. My friend jokingly stated that we brought the sun to Gothenburg. For the remainder of the day I relaxed for a while until the evening.

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Kyle, Winston, Maleek and myself went to an authentic Dim Sum restaurant and it was by far one of the best meals I have had on this trip thus far. I ordered shrimp dumplings, a spicy sautéed fish dish and a side of rice. The portions were fairly small but it was just delicious. That night Matthew suggested that we all go bowling and we were all game. It was a 15 minute ride to the bowling alley and we were joined by Brittanie Brown, a former dancer with the company, her partner, and my friend Nigel Campbell who’s danced with the company in the past also. We divided ourselves into teams and it was game on. We all had a blast. I scored a strike which made me very happy but that was no match to Winston’s 5 strikes in a row. He was on fire that night.

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Day 8

The next day was the performance and we had our usual day of spacing and dress rehearsal before the show at 7pm. Stora Teatern, the theater in which we performed was very intimate and it was just a 5-minute walk from the hotel. The renaissance style theater was such a beautiful space and we performed for a full house that night. After the show the company along with some of the dancers from Goteborgs Operans Danskompani went out to dinner at Vapiano. It was a night filled with great food, hilarious conversations and getting to know some really nice people. I was so sad to leave so soon but the next day we were heading to Kungsbacka, a fairly smaller city than Gothenburg.

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Day 9

Kungsbacka is similar to Vara in the sense that they are both quiet towns filled with friendly and warm people. The hotel was located directly across the street from the train station and the theater was ten minutes away from both. I arrived in the city a few hours before the other company members because I was scheduled to teach a master class. The theater was located in a school so there were students in the halls, some singing a tune and others rushing to there next class. The master class truly made my day; the students were so pleasant and eager to gain new information. After the class I walked around the town for a while, stopping at a nearby grocery store where I found these bag of chips that I have been on the hunt for. When I got back to the hotel I watched a bit of the news and devoured the bag of chips. I would say that I had a pretty great day.

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Day 10

The following day was November 27th, which was Thanksgiving as well as Winston’s birthday. I walked over to the theater earlier than usual to do my laundry and to just be in the space. The crew laid down a brand new floor for the company, which we appreciated greatly. Our official day began at 1:30pm to warm up and get ready for the dress rehearsal. After the dress rehearsal a wonderful dinner was prepared for us. Mash potatoes, lasagna, salmon with vegetables and delicious slices of bread. It was finger licking good.

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The performance that night was sold out and I even spotted a few of the students that attended my class. A beautiful Thanksgiving meal was organized for the company after the show. We had a creamy soup with a warm baguette to begin, followed by sweet potato puree with a succulent turkey. It was by far the best turkey I have had ever. This was my first Thanksgiving I have celebrated away from my family and although it is not a big tradition in my household, they were missed. I definitely enjoyed the company of my colleagues and I am truly thankful to be on this journey with them.

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Day 11

The next day we headed to our final stop in Sweden, Falkenberg, which we were notified, is even smaller than Kungsbacka. The hotel was located across from a river, which was such a peaceful element to wake up to. It also had a really great wellness center equipped with a sauna, steam room and a massage chair, all of which I took advantage of. The day of the show I spent an hour in the center before heading to the theater, which was 10 minutes away. It was just what I needed to kick of our final show in Sweden. This was the earliest evening performance we’ve had thus far; it was scheduled to start at 6pm. My body was fighting me a bit but I made it through the performance in one piece.

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The night was young but we were preparing to head to France the following day so I planned to stay in. A few of us got together for dinner and a game of spades. Endless laughter and phrases such as “yes diva,” “divaaaa,” “you did that diva” were thrown around. It was comical. This journey was an unforgettable one and I am so fortunate to be here performing with these amazing people. Off to France we go!