Zach's Diary part one: Growing up dancing in Canada,
Zach – an eighteen-year-old ballet dancer – arrives in Stuttgart to begin his studies at the John Cranko-Schule.
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Arriving in Stuttgart was quite a culture shock. I really didn't expect it to be so different!
Of course there was the language barrier – something I still haven't quite gotten over! – and also just the change of lifestyle. I thought Winnipeg was a big city, but Stuttgart is something else completely, with it's train and bus system that are super convenient. It is a beautiful city with lots of parks and greenery, and many Germans call it small, but to me it's a nice size. Once I had been around a bit and had gotten used to it, it didn't seem as huge and daunting as it did when I first arrived.
I have been enjoying my first two months at the school immensely! I have already started learning exciting new contemporary choreography as well as classical pieces and even a bit of Balanchine. Everyone was so welcoming and warm, and the faculty members are all so great, I've learned so much already from so many different teachers here.
I've seen two performances of the Stuttgart Ballet, and they both blew me away. The first I saw was a mixed repertoire evening titled Made in Germany, featuring works by German choreographers or pieces that had been set on the Stuttgart Ballet or had been created in Germany, hence the name Made in Germany. My favourite dancer, Friedemann Vogel, danced a contemporary solo (the evening was made up of all contemporary/neoclassical works) by one of the Stuttgart Ballet's resident choreographers, Marco Goecke. It was such an amazing experience to see this company live.
The second show I saw was John Neumeier's Othello, with two young dancers débuting in the main roles of Othello and Desdemona. Truth be told, I didn't know the story as well as I probably should have (I had heard a quick synopsis from one of my friend a week or so before), but it was still enjoyable and very, very different than what I had expected; but the dancing (and acting) was incredible.
I've also gotten to experience some quintessential German festivities – including the ‘Cannstatter Volksfest' which is Stuttgart's Oktoberfest. I was expecting more of just a drunken beer fest, but it was quite the carnival, with a huge ferris wheel and some really exciting rollercoaster type rides as well. It was a great way to see my classmates outside of school and get to know them a bit better.
I can't wait for whatever festivities will happen in Stuttgart around Christmas time!
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.