Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Minsk Journal: West Side Story - Day Two

Wednesday, September 14th
The Hotel Minsk lobby

The search for the perfect Italian restaurant continued in earnest here tonight. So far Jason Ignacio (our Associate Rehearsal Director) and I have found at least three in a three block radius from the hotel. Haven't quite figured out what the preoccupation with Italian food is here, but as a life-long Caprese addict I'm not complaining.

And the realization that the women in Minsk are the best dressed women I've ever seen outside of Italy just keeps getting reaffirmed daily. Serious style in this city everywhere.

As to the reason we're here....

How many times in life, and especially in art, have you heard the phrase "everything's been done. There's nothing new." It so easy to see it that way. But its wrong. Here, in Minsk, there's an opportunity to set a pace, a standard and a way forward for the creation of a musical theater community and culture that doesn't exist here yet. Never mind the one in New York -- you can't just transport 45th between Broadway and 9th Avenue. The one here, lurking under the surface like a stalk inching its way through the soil to the sunlight is fresh; unique.

The musical traditions, and the theater traditions, are so different that the pulling together of the separate cords of what makes a great musical great are being fabricated both before us and through us. From the "this is what a grapevine step looks like" to the flirtation/competition of the "Dance in the Gym," its all new here. The ideas of how to train to succeed in a musical are new. The chance to make it their own is present and it, too is new, because its a canvas they have to make for themselves. That's about courage, and there is so much of that --- and excitement. 42 dancers in the room today -- some of them true dancers, some actors, some singers -- but 42 people locked into Jason's every note and riveted on his footwork of his accent on the downbeat of the "5."

We set out to do some swing partnering, and it was the awkward high school dance all over again -- and that has to transform (and it will) into the elegant sexiness of an entire environment charged with it.

Too much fun.

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