So that's it. Ten months ago, I moved to Copenhagen; two nights ago (well, if I'm being honest? yesterday morning), I ended my first season with the Royal Danish Ballet. I feel like I have been here forever, and at the same time like my time here has gone by in approximately two minutes, give or take a couple hundred days. And so, after a first season marked by a lot of big changes (personally and professionally), I present one last installment of Danish Lessons...before summer school, of course.
1. Going into your last program of the season, know two things: Your hair may never be the same again, after all of the hairspray and teasing and pinning and taming this program involves. And you will end each night dog-tired and sweaty, but very happy.
2. If you go out with some friends one evening-before-a-free-day, you might see some zombies walking around your lovely adopted city. Fear not, because obviously it's just the Copenhagen Zombie Bar Crawl. A night for those interested to dress up as the living dead, and drink in multiple locations. Feel free to talk to these people, pester them with questions regarding the professionalism of their makeup, or the obvious: Why?
3. Perhaps--and this may or may not be an effect of a certain Icelandic volcanic eruption that shall not be named (mainly because it would take so long to type its name here)--the month of May involves a disconcerting amount of rain. And one day, hail. But do not fret. Keep hope alive. Because one day, you will emerge from Operaen to find flowers in full bloom, weather warm enough to require only a sweater, and the beautiful, wonderful sun, whose existence you had begun to doubt. On this day you will walk home slowly, with an idiotically gleeful look on your face. This is ok, but do be careful not to close your eyes and soak up the sun on your face for too long, because you might bump into a dreadlocked guy with multiple piercings who smells of marijuana.
4. One Saturday night, go out with some friends to a place in Frederiksberg called Cafe Intime. This place will have shoes hanging from the ceiling, so you will immediately love it. You will love it even more when you notice the old man playing old-fashioned piano in the corner. And then when the waiter gives you a plastic swizzle stick shaped like a muscle man, the love will grow. After Intime, the "hyggeligt" factor of your night will increase when you run into more friends at your favorite place in Kødbyen, and you end up sitting around a bonfire, having a beer and enjoying the newly bearable temperatures, excellent music, and wonderful company.
5. Sometimes, your friends and colleagues will be a part of a big photo festival. In their photos, they'll be naked, snapped doing everyday things at the theatre where you work. Go see the exhibition opening. Not only will you have a great time supporting your friends--who look fabulous in the photos--but you will also have a chance to have yourself a very fun evening.
6. It's ok to be a total ballerina bunhead and feel deliriously happy after every performance of your personal Holy Grail Balanchine ballet, Serenade. It's also ok to abuse your genetically huge hair on a semi-regular basis by teasing it out to astonishingly aerodynamic proportions--and to completely relish the opportunity to unleash your inner man-eating insect, complete with blood red lipstick and Amy Winehouse eyeliner--for The Cage. Just be sure to make the transition from one to the other quickly, otherwise you'll end up getting to the stage seconds before the curtain goes up, running across like a madwoman with finger-in-socket hair, yelling a few profanities and being thisclose to missing the beginning of the ballet. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. Be fast.
7. So maybe, with the end of the season coming and summer plans up in the air and waves of nostalgia overwhelming your overthinker's mind, you get to feeling a little bit...if not blue, then just blank. This is alright. As long as you listen to your friends, and take them up on invitations to go out even when you're not feeling like it. Because then you'll end up seeing a small hot pink battle-themed art installation on an energy box, followed by weirdly catchy ethnic house music at a multi-level nightclub, ending with shawarma, and at the night's end feel like you had regained some much-needed "muchness."
8. If you live in a city which provides you with this chance, take it: Eat brunch on top of a post office. There's nothing wrong with a wonderful view of Copenhagen, and there's everything right with Sunday brunch. Plus you can call your parents and be all, "Oh no big deal, I just brunched at the post office."
9. Let's say that for a week or so, your metatarsal has been acting cranky. The end of the season is so close, and you love the last program, so you get some physical therapy and it's ok. And then let's say that in the last entrance of Serenade, in the second-to-last performance of the season, your foot decides to go on holiday onstage. First of all: you're in a place where it's ok to cry, so go ahead and do it. Second of all: Make the hard, smart decision and end your season a little early. It's ok. People are understanding, and supportive, and it's not ideal but it's the right decision to make. Cheer yourself up the next day by attending the theatre's opening of Ofelia Beach with your friends. Soak up the sunshine, enjoy a cold beer, and know that time off is exactly what your foot (and, ok, the rest of your body) needs. Also have an epiphany: People are not robots. And plus, even robots malfunction.
10. If you go to one of your favorite apartments on Planet Earth--aka Constantine and Stauning's--to record a little sketch for the end-of-season party, and you're walking around their beautiful courtyard, talking to Charlie on the phone, you may end up staring in the face of a rabbit perched on someone's balcony. Somehow, with everything you've seen and experienced this year, this doesn't really phase you. Snap a picture and continue on.
11. Your season, unfortunately, ended a bit prematurely. But you realize you were healthy but for one show (the last, which stinks, but still); you made personal strides and professional progress; you visited new places and made wonderful friends; and you had a fun, good first season. Maybe you realize this while out to lunch the afternoon before the last day of the season. Maybe this inspires you to do something drastic, to take a risk and just go for something. And maybe you find a hair salon with an appointment opening, and you sit down in the chair and say, "If it's a bad idea, don't let me do this, but I want to cut it all off." Maybe that's the best move you could make to cheer yourself up and start the summer holidays by getting rid of a whole lot of hair. Tillykke to you for not overthinking and for being impulsive and for upping your self-esteem.
12. The last day of the season, go support the ballerina troops in their final performance. Just because you cannot be dancing does not mean you can't enjoy watching from the wings. In fact, doing so will bring on another epiphany (look, the end of a season results in a lot of these, so bear with me): You're proud to be part of this company. And you had one of the best, weirdest, most wonderful years of your life. You're going into the summer holiday feeling like you grew as a person and as a dancer. And all of this realization before The Cage. That's a lot of epiphany.
13. After the performance, go home to prepare for that evening's big party. Take a nap. Pick up pizza and get together with a couple of fantastic girlfriends for some pre-party 'za and wine. Listen to their advice about the red lipstick (that is: do it). Be eternally grateful for your friend's wonderful, sparkly vintage dress that she lends you. Grab a taxi to head over to the party. Discover the easy route--via Knippelsbro--is blocked due to (I kid you not) a "Two-Minute Rave." Reroute, and prepare for a very fun evening.
14. Enjoy one of the happiest parties in recent memory to end your first season with this company. Enjoy the drinks, the snacks, the wonderful music, the fun funny people you work with. Enjoy the fact that your skit, recorded two days earlier after the aforementioned Bunny Encounter, is a hit. Enjoy dancing like an idiot, with almost everybody; including an anonymous trombonist who, moments after joking about your goofy social dancing skills, wipes out on the messy floor, thus reaffirming your belief in karma. Enjoy the fact that all of this is taking place in the old theatre, which has become a virtual second home over the last ten months. Enjoy being up very late and not having to worry about getting up in the morning, and all with beautiful warm weather going on recently. (And don't think about the fact that on Sunday afternoon, in a cruel initiation tradition for first-year company members, you will have to come in and clean up the leftovers from this madcap celebration. It won't be nearly as bad as you fear. Just continue to do your part in contributing to the mess.)
15. Since the beginning of the season, you have heard people speak of a place, and all season long you have wanted to go. This place is the roof of Det Kongelige Teater. When your friends suggest a trip upstairs to watch the sunrise, then, be excited. And when you get up there, just as the sun is rising over Copenhagen, and take in the view of this city--so quiet at such an early hour--it's ok if you lack words, for once. Just appreciate the fact that at that exact moment, with these people in this unbelievable spot, you're ending your season in the most perfect way imaginable. Take pictures. But mostly try to absorb it into your memory forever.
16. After the rooftop awesomeness, visit another place in the theatre you haven't been (but have wanted to go to): Studio H, that mysterious place even higher up in the building than St. Ny. Barefoot and oddly not tired, you'll sit next to the piano and listen as Stauning tickles the ivories, and people are talking quietly, and the window is open to let in warm summer air, and the sun is fully awake. At one point, you will lean your head against the wall and sort of close your eyes, and in a corny/sappy/totally true moment realize that this exact situation is giving you true happiness.
17. Go down to your dressing room and change out of your sparkly dress into sweats and Converse. The night is over, and has been for quite some time now, and it's time to go home. As you walk across Knippelsbro, completely awake and incredibly happy, realize that mornings aren't always so bad; and that whoever has to clean up the bridge after the previous night's end-of-Distortion festivities has a far harder job than you do, cleaning up after the ballet's party. Entering Christianshavn, you might hear opera music in the air. Lagkagehuset is just opening its doors to receive deliveries, and as you walk by the pastry mecca, you'll realize the opera tunes are coming from inside the bakery. Poking your head in to investigate, you'll see a group of professional opera singers belting beautiful music to the store employees, much to everyone's delight. You'll notice the singers appear to be sopping wet, from head to toe; when one of them recognizes you as a fellow employee of the theatre, she will gleefully explain that after the opera party, she and her friends here jumped in the Kanal and are now trying to score some baked goods before going home. You can only grin at her story, and continuing to your apartment, you'll have three final realizations: This city rocks. Your new haircut rocks. And you finally feel at home.
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