Another surreal week … in Albania this time!

Working for StopGAP, you get used to the unusual happening, but our recent week in Albania was certainly the most surreal week of my life!

Sat 9th April

Packing time again!  We were all getting ready for StopGAP’s fourth trip out to Albania.  The next day we were heading back to Tirana for the culmination of our project with the British Council and Vodafone Albania Foundation.  We have been mentoring dancers from Albanian Dance Theatre and other dance artists to help them set up a number of integrated groups, and then choreograph on them.  During the week the groups would be performing in their local cities, and we were to perform Trespass at the Academy of Arts in Tirana to celebrate the British Council and Vodafone Albania Foundation Promoting Inclusion Week, with Help the Life Association.

Anna and I headed to a hotel near Gatwick because of the early start the following day, unaware that things were about to get a little weird.  Unfortunately, due to an ear infection,  Chris was unable to fly with us, leaving just four dancers. Panic! What will we do?

Immediately Lucy’s problem-solving brain swung into action, and the decision was made to take Hannah, our apprentice dancer instead!  She and Anna would then perform “Shadow Voices”, choreographed by Chris, as part of our evenings show.  Hannah had toured with the company last summer for the last few Tracking performances, but this was to be her first overseas trip with us!  Fortuitously Anna, our lead apprentice dancer, was already coming with us, having been out to lead workshops on the last trip to Albania!  So it was a dash from the hotel back to Anna’s home to pick up her costume and music, then back to the hotel and to bed, ready for the early start the following day… still a little shell-shocked at the turn of events.

Sun 10th May

We all meet up bright and early at Gatwick, with a few last-minute logistics to sort and then we were on our way.

It was great to see the familiar face of Ani from the Help for Life Centre, where we had previously led workshops, meeting us at Tirana airport and taking us to our hotels.  We had a warm welcome on arriving at our hotel; I didn’t even have to say my name as they remembered us from before! I was back in my usual room overlooking the national football grounds and able to see the Academy of Art where we would be performing on Tuesday… I could even see the giant poster of StopGAP that was hanging from the front of the building, advertising our performance!

We then all met up back at the other hotel and got down to business with reworking the dances without Chris.  Clare Sears from the British Council popped in to say hi and check we were all ok.  Oh, and to mention that the Albanian President would be watching… no pressure then!

My hotel view, including a massive poster of StopGAP!

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A brief interlude!

I keep meaning to post this blog, but as we have been touring so much this month it is hard to find time to be at the computer and write something sensible! So as I have managed to get to the office early before we all go to the Isle of Wight (for our performance there) I thought I would take the opportunity now!

I just wanted to post this link from an interview I did in Romania when we were out there performing in the beginning of November.  We have been out to Romania quite a few times this year, leading workshops, training and conferences, but this was our chance to return and perform in one of their main performances.  We really enjoyed being able to perform out there and had great audiences (which is always nice!).  If you scroll down to the bottom of the article you can see some shots from the performance, including the rather fetching backdrop that we used for “Splinter” that Sho was trying to bring home with us!