So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen goodbye.....Only for several weeks, dear readers. I will be back in Croatia, to teach once more at the International Vocal Arts Workshop.
The last (and first) time I went there, two years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I was filled with the excitement and anticipation that come before an adventure that is a glorious mystery, a journey into uncharted waters. I was nervous, and terrified that I would not live up to what was expected of me, that I would not enjoy myself, that I would spend my days wondering, "what am I doing here?"
It was a remarkable experience, all the more so for everything being wondrously fresh, revelatory and unique, with impressions that were pristine, unmarred by the past or any expectations.
It will be different this time. I know that I will be going to one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on this earth. That I will feel the early morning mist on my face, hear the crowing of roosters echoing across the valley, see the tiny olives, apples and pears on the sunny hillsides, and taste the juicy sweet strawberries that hide shyly in shady patches in gardens scented with the heady aroma of lavender.
I am excited about meeting Nevye, the glass-maker, whose shop is filled with lovely objects in all colors of the rainbow, all made in his tiny studio behind the shop. Nevye has a smile for everyone who passes by, and to anyone who is willing to listen, he tells stories of his youth, and the dark, grim days of the war that split his country asunder. It will be great to see Bruno, who ensured that we were well fed (too well fed, judging from my girth at the end of the program!), and his girlfriend, sweet Sandra. Mladen and Mojca will be there at the music school, catering to all our demands and crises, big and small.
And how can I not mention Olinda - yes, he will be there, too. Will he be more sober now, two years later? Or wilder? Before long, I will know. Some of the students who were there last time will be present this time as well, but there will be many new ones.
We have many exciting ideas that we will work on. Just last month, we performed, in New York, what I think was a brilliant, and utterly unique interpretation of the Rusalka myth - the story of the Little Mermaid. We explored the idea of the Navarasas - the nine emotions that are a vital part of the Bharata Natyam canon, and then decided to enact the story of the Little Mermaid (not the Disney, happily-ever-after version ) through some of these, and other, rasas, or emotions. There was love, anger, anguish, sorrow, disgust and laughter. There was haunting, soul-stirring music by Faure and Debussy, there was slow, sinuous Javanese dance, there was a vigorous counter-dance in Bharata Natyam. A raga alapana in Mayamalavagowla was the perfect accompaniment to the Mermaid's painful transformation from a creature of the sea to a being of the land, depicted in a mix of graceful ballet and jerky modern dance moves. We were a group of music and dance lovers from around the world, and we brought together our cultures, our knowledge, our ideas, to produce our vision and version of the tragic story of a lovely water sprite.
This is just one example of the kind of work we do. It is exciting and challenging and it does not always work, and we do not always agree, and very often, we do not have a clear idea of what we want a piece to look and sound like, but allow it to evolve as the ideas and interpretations go back and forth, this way and that, voyaging through many lands and cultures.
So yes, this time it will not be the open-mouthed wonder of the virgin traveler, but the warmer, deeper, more subdued buzz of someone returning to old friends and memories, tinged with the excitement of the new and unknown as well.
Be assured that I will have many new tales for you when I return!