Emmi's Pen (9): Near and far

Emmi’s Pen is a blog, appearing on our website every two weeks. Dancer Emmi Pennanen will take you behind the scenes into the daily joys and struggles of a dancer, each time zooming in on a specific aspect of life at Ballet Vlaanderen.

Near and far

After celebrating Christmas on stage in our production of The Nutcracker, every day of the last workweek of 2016, we were ready to start a ten day holiday on Christmas Eve. Throughout the day Antwerp Central station and Brussels airport saw many tired but happy dancers board trains and planes with the destination “rest and recuperation”. With an intensive first half of the season, full of exciting challenges, valuable lessons and fruitful collaboration behind us, a little break was well timed for all newly planted seeds to take root and start sprouting.

We are an international company of dancers, with some having moved for this dream job of ours, from countries as far as Australia, Brazil and Canada. Even most of our Belgian dancers are not living in their original hometowns. The notion of home therefore seems like a much more complex matter than what the comforting word implies. On one hand it describes where we come from, on the other it is defined by our profession and where we are now. I catch myself describing both Finland and Antwerp as home and really mostly feel like I live in the studios at the ballet. 

Likewise the word family is one that holds multiple meanings. Sharing the same goals and dreams, living far away from relatives and navigating together in a competitive environment is a sure recipe for building close bonds. The turnover of dancers in companies is rather frequent, which results in a widespread international network of irreplaceable friends. Now, with a little time to leave our daily routines and surroundings behind, our company comfortably spread around the globe. Settling to spend the holidays with family, whether through friendship, love or birth. 

Once arrived at our various destinations, exercise was left on the coat hanger for a few days with good conscience. Since we work just as intensely as athletes, recovery time can often boost improvement. Anything longer than our usual one to two days off is luxury. Even so, as we are used to drive on the endorphins brought on by dance and training, sitting tight for too many days in a row becomes anything but relaxing. Asking around about everybody's plans, the unanimous intention was to take up some sort of exercise midway through the break.

This new year and the second half of the season holds a lot in store for us. We will be performing works by world renowned ballet and contemporary choreographers from Russia, India, Israel, Belgium-Morocco, Belgium-Colombia, Germany and the USA. Having had the chance to recharge and reflect we are once again ready to dive into this myriad of inspiring worlds.

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