Thursday, May 29, 2014

Interactions on the U-Bahn

After a spectacular performance at the Schaubühne the other night, I decided to make my way home alone instead of travelling with the group. Going alone gives me time to think, look at things, and, best of all, people watch.
With this goal in mind, I opted for a seat in the center of the car instead of a corner, where I usually prefer to sit. Immediately I noticed a woman sitting and talking (rather loudly) on her cell phone. I enjoyed her voice and accent, so I sat there a while watching her as her face animated with her half of the conversation. This went on for a couple minutes, until the man next to her misinterpreted my staring, asked her if she wouldn't mind talking quieter, and then smiled and gave me a quick nod of acknowledgement of the "favor" he just did for me. I sat in silence for a couple stops until she got off, and a homeless man stepped on.
He was selling a newspaper featuring art and literature. He was asking for between 1 and 2 euro, and, as usual, most people were looking away or otherwise ignoring him. Even I was avoiding looking at him directly as I was listening to him. He went on for a while, then a different man across from me started asking questions about the paper. He asked why there wasn't a specified price, who the artists were, and other things. He decided against buying a paper, because the money was going to the homeless man, who got the papers for free to deliver and sell at his own determined price.
In the midst of this conversation, a man walked over, beer bottle in tow, and told the homeless man off. He said that no one wanted to buy the paper, that he was bothering everyone, and that he should just go away and stop being a nuisance. The homeless man pointed out that he was having a legitimate conversation and trying to make money to eat, to which beer bottle guy didn't really have a coherent response. The newspaper salesman and the intoxicated spokesman for the train stepped off at the next stop and continued their argument as they parted ways. The rest of the trip was spent in silence.

Little conversations like these show the differences in German and American culture when it comes to homelessness and interaction with strangers. Here the homeless people seem to be pretty organized. There are some bums, but a lot of them actually take to the streets every day, using resources available to them, such as various newspapers they can get for free, and attempt to make an honest living. People here tend to ignore them as well, but, if their curiosity is piqued, they will ask questions. Germans seem more likely to talk to strangers if they're doing something annoying, questionable, or interesting. Drunkenness in public is a tolerated thing here, and so not every interaction is all that enlightening, but people are at least interacting. I feel like the general tendency is not to talk to strangers in the US. If someone is being slightly obnoxious, a conversation may be exchanged with glances between victims, but it's pretty rare for anyone to say anything unless it turns into a dramatic event. It would be kind of nice if Americans loosened up a bit and let go of the need to be so closed off and proper acting in public places and just talked to the people around them.

Die Katze

In the few days I've had after the program, I've gotten to show some new people some of my favorite places: Warschauer Straße -still "home"-, that one bench on musuem island where I sat for 2 hours and gave 6€ to a homeless woman, that one cafe where I had a pastry buffet breakfast with 3 people I had just met from all over the world. And yet. It's been only a month, but I feel at home here. I felt like I was showing them my little world. 

This city is so huge but feels small at the same time. Janet was right. Has it been a month, a day, a lifetime that we've been here? I had only one expectation upon arriving in Berlin: to be exhausted. I've never been one to nap, but here I can easily be deep in REM cycle within 10 seconds of sitting down on the U-Bahn. I can't say I've showered recently, and there are 3 cents left in my wallet, but I feel like this has been the adventure of a lifetime. Every day has been so jampacked with experiences in places I would have never seen had I not been on this trip. This is just what I needed at this point in my life. I've taken away so much 
from all the shows and people I've seen. From Woyzzeck III to Peter Pan to the Berlin Philharmonic.. Every single night I was seeing something new. Shows I would never have otherwise even considered. Every single one has been memorable, some more shocking.. I can't say I've ever been shot at during a show (it was a fake gun.. I think). I feel that my awareness has expanded, I'm more conscious of the way I'm moving through this world. That's something I picked up here- Europeans seem to be more conscious of their actions. They are more Eco-friendly, the dogs are all off-leash and well-behaved, they are more polite and quiet for the most part. I surprised myself with how interested I became in history and how much I ended up reading about WW2 and all the events that took place at all the various places we visited. It's so fascinating how much this city has been through. 

Berlin is like Narnia to me. This strange little place that I will always be able to rediscover and love but never explain. 
I'm coming out of this trip with a newfound appreciation for all the little things.. Like free water. I've never before felt so appreciative of free sink water from the bathroom. I've learned to adapt so quickly, having had to live outside of my comfort zone for this extended period. 

Now on to the next adventure.. Amsterdam for 5 days, then Mallorca, and then I'm going to bus around Ireland for a week! I can't wait. It's been the experience of a lifetime. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

FInal Day

Like Tony in the post before me, I am sitting in a cafe on this, my last day in Berlin. I write to pass the time: an old friend and graduate of Michigan lives by a stroke of luck right here in Berlin, and we're going to have a little lunch date. This evening I hope to cap off the day with a final beer with the remaining folks from the program, making this a day as pleasant, slow, and relaxed as I could ask for. Then 6am tomorrow morning and I'm out the door. One day to process, and then a return to the real world.

My feelings are bittersweet. I love Ann Arbor, and I have been anticipating my return, to be in a space that is small enough to really know and grow familiar with, a place with boundaries. One thing one can say about Berlin (--maybe any large city--) is that it is boundless. You can't see it all, you can't know it all, you can't exhaust the place. At least it feels this way after a months' stay. Every corner continues to pour forth new things as yet unnoticed and unobserved. The boroughs remain so distinct from one another, worlds in themselves. I have been struck in particular with how conscious people around here seem to be about the diverse history of the city. Maybe it is because the city underwent such a great transformation following World War II, I can imagine it being difficult not to notice the change.

But it is the energy of the people themselves, their daly lives, and not just the sheer quantity of "history" that has happened here, that also takes on this boundless quality. Yesterday I did a lot of walking around by myself, and I stumbled across a few parks (of which there is really an absurd sum: you hit them all the time when you wander around). In every park, stretches of lawn were completely covered by sunbathers, by smoking grills, by little kids running around and playing, sometimes clothed and sometimes not so much. And almost as many dogs as people, dogs I think *never* kept on the leash. And I truly mean every park. On a Sunday afternoon, when the weather is nice, I challenge anyone to find a spot of green in private. It simply does not exist. Just from these observations it seems pretty clear that Berliners love their public leisure-spaces. And this brings me to another point: the people here are clearly active, and they are clearly healthy. Perhaps the most surprising for me is the sheer amount of young parents I have seen walking or riding with their kids, with babies strapped to their waste. Young good healthy looking parents.

(---I pause to share with you what's happening in the cafe as I write: A woman walks in casually with maybe an 80 pound dog. No leash, of course. She walks to the bathroom, motions the dog to sit, and enters while the dog waits patiently outside. She emerges again and walks away, the dog silently follows. Dogs are everywhere here--outside and inside--I've even seen some sitting silently in the bars!)

But back to the theme of boundlessness. This applies also to the theatre: energy you don't know where it comes from. In the last weekend I have seen 2 pieces at a theater called the Gorki. The acting was intense and spirited, the plays were not audience friendly, more than a little indulgent on the part of the artists, and sometimes downright difficult to stomach. Both times I felt bad vibes from the audience. Reviews from others sounded lukewarm to negative. And yet in spite of it all, insofar as I am able to make generalizations from just 2 shows, I get the impression that this kind of reception doesn't stop the theater from doing what it does. And I have to say, I was deeply moved by their energy and their (at least apparent) conviction. I never actually came to the Gorki until late in the trip, and I am deeply regretful that I could not see more from them.

But too much boundlessness can be exhausting. At least for me. I am ready to return to Ann Arbor. There is something to be said for the familiar, for surroundings that do not distract if you don't want them to, that can sink away into quiet ambience and, if you want, you can put aside for awhile. A place perhaps not so vibrant. Which is not always a bad thing.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


As I sit here in a cafe, I find myself thinking about all of the different things I have experienced in the past few weeks. Janet told us before we left that we would be busy doing so many things every day, and she was right. I have had the trip of a lifetime, and am blown away by all of the amazing experiences I have had. The first thing I will comment on is one that I had been most worried about on this trip. Dancing. I will begin by saying that I do not dance. At least I thought I didn't. The biggest step in this realization was understanding that my definition of"dance" was absolutely and totally wrong. Through the work we did I found myself not just simply participating in the many workshops, but truly enjoying them and looking forward to each one (though by the end, my feet would probably disagree with that last statement :P) the most important thing I learned is that dance is movement. Marcela told us, "As you are walking down the street, you are dancing. You just aren't paying attention to the numerous movements your body is making in order to create the walking process." I didn't get it. How could walking be dance? I now see that though this is a very simplistic movement, if given context or thought, walking can be very meaningful. I find myself in the workshops thinking about each step, each movement, every joint in my body and how each of these things changed what I was presenting. Now, to back track a bit... I never said I was a good dancer. I am a GREAT dancer, obviously. Haha just kidding. In all reality I don't really think it matters. Dance is something that I believe can be enjoyed, and if I have fun doing it that is the only thing that is important. I have truly learned so much about this interesting topic, and would love to have the chance to do more things like this in the future. My sincerest thanks go out to Janet, Jacalyn, Marcela, and Nadja for encouraging all of us to put in our all because I really think everyone on the trip got something great out of it. With only a few days left with the group I am seeing that it will be sad to not be around everyone and laugh and joke and learn together. I always travel alone, and this is the second worry I had before coming on this trip. Would I be able to get along with everyone? Would people be hard to live so closely with? Would I have to wait an hour to shower? Turns out none of these questions ended up being problematic. I mean, we have definitely had to wait an hour for a shower done days, but that didn't really matter hahaha. Not once have I felt uncomfortable with the group. Not once have I been upset with someone on the trip. Not once have I felt the need to escape and be alone. Not once have I felt stressed. Well that last one is a lie. The other students and I planned a few events for Teryn's birthday. This happened to be on one of our busier days, but the stress was totally welcomed and TOTALLY worth it. We surprised her numerous times, the best being the flash mob in front of the Brandenburger Tor. I'll let her talk more about that :). That "stressful" day was one of my favorites on the trip, as it was so much fun to see the entire group work together and pull everything together (thanks Sarah for laying on the ground in your nice clothes to make the dance perfect!!!!) If I had to choose a low point for the trip it would be impossible. I would probably say the the bomb shelter/bunker things we have visited. I absolutely loved them, but that was physically the lowest we got altitude-wise (see what I did there?? Haha.) Truthfully though, wow. Just wow. What an experience. Truthfully the trip of a lifetime. Thank all you guys on this trip with me for really becoming my close friends and for putting up with my goofiness and jokes (that's you Benji, lol.) Sui that's all for now! I have to run because my show is starting soon!!

Dance workshop photos

Here are some pictures from our dance workshops!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Good American

Last weekend, we went to Tempelhof Airport.  A massive airport designed and mostly built by the Nazis inside of the city of Berlin, this structure has a history almost as grand as its facade.  It would fall into the hands of the Allied forces at the end of the war, and it would be finished by the US Air Force and subsequently used to house Americans until the end of the Cold War.  However, wikipedia (linked above) can give a better history than I can in this limited space.  Instead, I want to discuss what this airport represents to Berlin.  You only need to know one little piece of history for this and that is that Berlin was blockaded by the Soviets for almost eleven months, and that for fifteen months (eleven were during the actual blockade the other four were to help build reserves) the US and British forces flew in industrial goods and food into the city by using Tempelhof as their landing strip.  Planes would fly in and out of Berlin at a rate of a plane every thirty seconds at the height of the airlift.  They brought in more than 2.3 million tons of supplies.  To many Berliners, Tempelhof marks freedom because of the "Luftbrücke" (airlift in English) which saved the city from the blockade.  People could continue living and not have to give in to the Soviets.  The airport represents how close the city was to becoming entirely Soviet and how close everyone in West Berlin was being forced to live under the communist regime.  Thanks to the Americans and British forces, life continued in the city.  This now-defunct airport represents how good American forces could be.  While we haven't always had the best relationship since the war (most recently), this moment will forever define the potential that can be reached.  To many Berliners, Americans will always be the ones that saved them.  It may not of been completely out of the goodness of our hearts, but we still spent enormous amounts of money and man power keeping Berlin running.  In the end, our actions were all that mattered and not so much our motives  Tempelhof and the airlift memorial will always represent the good side of the Americans.


The Germans have a word I like to use. "Leerlauf" (running idle or idling)can be used to mean taking time to do nothing. This is a great word that comes from "leer" = empty and "laufen" = to run/walk.  We started our day later yesterday (on the train after 11 am!) to go to Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) which is in the Wannsee. It is a charming place and the main attraction was just seeing sailboats, watching frogs in bogs, listening to loud birds, resting under trees and in wide-open meadows, eating a piece of rhubarb cake (Rharbarberkuchen),painting onto small canvases with acrylic paints, and watching peacocks, including some rare white fluffy peacocks (sorry no picture of those). Here are a few shots I took.

I can't believe I took that last shot with my I-Phone!
I'll post pictures from today's tour, later!


I sit here having just returned from Teufelsberg. That's German for Devil's Mountain. Teufelsberg is a hill that is elevated around 100 meters or so above the surrounding land (if I remember correctly), and is remarkable for a number of reasons. The first is that one hundred years ago it did not exist. It is a manmade “mountain,” created in the years after World War II. Berliners created the thing by heaping together all the rubble from the destruction the city faced during the War. According to Wikipedia there is about 26 million cubic meters of rubble. All from the broken bricks of old Berlin. And they brought the rubble in from all over the city, one truckload at a time. During the tour we saw a picture of the process, and each individual load was really not much more than could fit on the bed of a pick-up truck. It was a decades-long project.
The second reason we can call Teufelsberg remarkable is because during the Cold War at the tippy top of this little mountain there was a secret spy operation run by American and British intelligence. “Communications Intelligence.” While it was in operation (till 1992) American agents (or whatever you call them) monitored communication signals flying around the nearby Soviet air-ways. And we got a tour of the facilities.  Of course there was nothing much left of the actual technology they used. When the Americans abandoned the place they took all the important stuff with them. Mostly empty lockers now and big spacious, run-down, echo-y rooms. Although we did get to see one thing they left behind: the “Document Disintegration System,” which is a fancy way of saying a giant paper shredder. It consisted in two pretty large cylinders, maybe a meter and a half in diameter each and extending from the floor to the ceiling. I don't really understand how they accomplished their task, but apparently the process of “Document Disintegration” began by shredding all the paper, before the shreds were funneled into these cylinders, inside of which they were then whirled around at a high speed. The idea, apparently, is that the friction generated by the whirlwind would rub the ink off of these very sensitive documents. After this, the shreds were all somehow clumped together into a box-like shape (how I do not know!), ready to be loaded onto a truck which then took them to another building to be incinerated. A thorough procedure.
Today what's left of the "spy-operation" is in pretty heavy disrepair. The windows are all missing or broken. Apparently much of it is dangerous to walk through. Our tour-guide told us to “stick by him” and we'll make it out okay. I imagine that he meant to say that other parts of the building were not so structurally sound. Now the whole place is also covered in graffiti. Every inch of the walls, it seems, is covered in art. But this is not just vandalism. The folks who take care of Teufelsberg have invited artists to come in and mark it up as they please. Our tour-guide also mentioned that they've opened up the space for performance art, which it kills me not to be able to see. There is one space in particular that I could imagine is perfect. On the roof of the building there are the remains of a radio-tower that used to be used by the German government for reasons having to do with air traffic (i.e. airplanes), although I can't really remember the specifics. What's important is that the room is a giant sphere at the top of five or six flights of stairs, and it's got some really strange acoustics. Wish I could explain. When you speak in this room you hear your own echo about a half second after you make any noise, and it's as though it comes from immediately behind you. It sounds like someone is imitating everything you say. The effect was so strange.
All in all it was an interesting tour. Real spy-business, that stuff is no joke. And now I'm gearing up for theater, making for another full day in Berlin.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"children's" theater

This morning we went to see a show at the Grips theater, a theater intended for children. We waded through elementary schoolers on our way to our seats, and I was braced for the worst. The people came on stage and the beginning proved to be just as juvenile as I expected. The acting was pretty exaggerated and the humor was juvenile, so I immediately expected the whole thing to be like a kids' show.
In places, I was right, there was some pretty basic humor, but it also incorporated a lot of very mature ideas. It was about water in the world, and how many people get sick and die because they don't have access to clean water. It challenged kids to question, challenge, and even disobey authority figures. They were encouraged to protest and come up with ideas to fix the problem. They were shown pictures of people dying, and, for a large portion of the show, there was a count of how many people had died due to sickness from unclean water just during the play.
This is the last thing that I would expect for children's theater. In the USA, we try to shelter kids, and not have them think about the harsh realities of the world, but here their teachers bring them to see these shows and make them conscious of the world's problems and prepare them to find solutions to them. It was really astounding to me to see these elementary schoolers brought to the theater to watch a play that talks about the consequences of consumerism and pollution on the populations of countries that don't often even get thought of.
While it didn't really present all the details of the situation, it did get everyone thinking about the situation and how they might be contributing to the problem. It was really refreshing to see something that wasn't the typical diluted disney story given to children. This piece shows that kids can be treated as real people who think and can handle hearing that there's a problem. It's a lesson that Americans should take in the way they handle their own kids.
It went from rainy and cold (especially during tours) to 86 degrees. Here are a few pictures to remind you of what we look like. They show us at the Neues Museum and the Pergamon Museum, rehearsing for our performance (which will take place today!)  and waiting for a dance concert (anderland) at Halle to begin.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

I'm going to post a few photos while the internet is still working! We have seen so many historical sites in the past few days. This city has survived so much. Posted above is the German Reichstag, with the famous and relatively new glass dome. Climbing all the way up to the top of the dome gave such incredible views of the city, and there was even a huge full red moon that night.
We walked through grey, grey, grey. But when you are talking about the Holocaust, it's not a time to complain about grey or about being wet. Grey days don't stop us. And suddenly at the end of our grey, wet Holocaust memorial walk (tour), I saw beauty.

Last night I attended the second in a series of three consecutive dance performances I will attend with students on this trip. It was fun to be joined this time by two former Deutsches Theater students, one from 2004 and 2005, who is now living as a musician in Berlin, and the other (from DT 2012), who is spending a year abroad in Munich. The show last night was "Existence" and it was danced by Minako Seki and her Accompanist on Cello. I will add that the role of the cello dancing was a major feature of the program.

I knew Minako Seki's work because I participated in a week-long series of workshops in the year before I brought my first group of students on a study program to Berlin in 2006. Since I was preparing for the 2006 program, it must have been 2005. She works and teaches in the style of Butoh, a Japanese form of dance/theater that is highly emotional and a dance form into which one fully escapes. This is the opposite of the style of theater I am most experienced with, a sort of eclectic method that grew out of Brecht's ideas for the theater.

Minako Seki is a fascinating and beautiful dancer, who has tremendous control of her movement on stage, yet appears to also at times disappear and become the dance. As my former student said, it is as if the dance takes on a life of its own and the dancer, herself, disappears.

I read the story behind "Existence" (which is at the bottom of this post) only after attending the performance; it is interesting that it confirms the things I sensed about the performance, even though I didn't always understand what I was witnessing at the time. The tension between the dancer and the cello creates an intense portrayal of fear, domination and a fight for survival that I experienced to be extremely beautiful and at the same time painful--excruciatingly so. As the dance took place, I found myself absorbed in watching it and also reflecting on my own experiences with health, survival, caregiving, and protection. Doing so both helped me to gain insight into the performance and at the same time made it hard to watch. The pace of the work accentuated the sense of nature's power and ability to prevail over any human attempts to change it. Minako Seki's expressions and her small, almost silent cries make the audience members feel like voyeurs witnessing attacks, while doing nothing to stop them. The cello is a character that physically pursues Minako Seki's character, intimidates her, and becomes her primary focus. The performance, as heavy as it was at times, also had several controlled, light moments including a comical section when Minako Seki sneaks around, having "stolen" the cello from the cellist. At times, this performance was as much about sound as about movement, or rather the sound and movement became layered on top of each other. At one point, for example, the cellist swung the cello around at different angles for several minutes, as if he were a whirling dervish, the amplified cello created the sounds of a storm and thunder. The lighting, incidentally was perfect in helping create a mood. Overall, I had a hard time watching and listening and a hard time not doing so.

Now that I have read a description of the origin of the piece I have a better appreciation of what Minako Seki achieved. Her show was just over an hour, I think (I forgot to check the time) and it flowed from section to section without a single break. Seeing this piece was also a refreshing reminder that an important part of witnessing art (dance, theater, music) is the awareness that we both know and don't know what we are experiencing. What I love about what I see in Germany is that I continue to think about performances long after they have ended. The performance continues in my head.

The blurb for the piece follows:
“Existence” is dedicated to life-determining issues: fear, hope, love, illness and death. The origin of the piece is an homage to Minako's early deceased brother and her sister enduring for a long time fatal disease. Drawing on this experiences Minako develops together with Willem Schulz an equally humorous as profound dance investigation
 of the vast landscape between life and death, heaven and earth.

The metaphorical imagery of the piece is inspired by an encounter Minako had once in an abandoned village:
Five young owls, short after they hatched, are crouching on the ground, one on top of the other. They have small, naked bodies, but enormous, huge heads with big dusty eyes, the color of their skin nearly pink. The one on the very top instinctively screams in a horrible raspy and piercing tone to be fed. The power of survival and at the same time the extreme vulnerability of existence manifest themselves at the same time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lake Studio Dance Performance

Last night we were lucky enough to see one of our instructors, Marcela, perform along with several other members of her dance troupe. Most of the dancers are part of a cooperative. They all live in the same building that the performance was held in, which they helped to renotave themselves. Lake Studios is located in Friedrichshagen, an adorable town just outside of Berlin. The space is very calming, with a peaceful garden and hammocks in the back. Like most performances I've seen in Berln, the dance cncert was very different than I expected in the best way. The show started with the audience laying on the middle of the stage, and Marcela dancing on top of the skylight above, providing an incredible example of the techniques that she's been teaching us. Other dancers challenged my expectations as well, from a woman who spent a large part of her performance with her feet planted on the floor, moving only her upper body to a man whose dance involved a desk and a plastic toy dinosaur. Everything we saw was unique and incrible. Many of us even got a chance to speak with the dancers after the show and learn a little more about the studio.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Theater, Bikes

Here's a little something something I wrote last Monday, but due to a faulty internet connection and extreme busyness I haven't been able to put down until today: ....

Up at 7:30 on a Monday. Haven't had a moment's rest in the last two days. Saturday was the day of variety: It began with a dance workshop with the kids at Morus who we are all tutoring.  Then we moved on from there to a public reading of Brecht at an event called "Reading against forgetting" (Lesen Gegen Das Vergessen). "Reading Against Forgetting", as I understand it, was set up to commemorate the "bad" or "degenerate" books that were banned by the Nazi regime. Unfortunately we did not have a ton of time to stay. We got there at 3:30, we were up to read at 4pm, and then at 5pm we had a show to catch (a production of Peter Pan!) at the theater. So we did the reading, got the applause, and rushed to go see Peter Pan, which was incredible. But not even that was the end of our day. Because at 10pm, myself and Tony and Tristan had another theater piece to catch, called "Murmel Murmel." All told it added up to about 4 hours of visual art. Both pieces were wild, strange, and sadly impossible to explain, because so much emphasis was on the visual component of the pieces. But I will try. In "Murmel Murmel" the actors only ever said a single word, "Murmel," which they surely repeated many thousands of times, while performing a lot of different kinds of physical comedy. It was entertaining and broad, or so I thought. But Peter Pan was my favorite. The music was incredible. The set and acting were incredible. Here is a picture:

And Tinkerbell was simply the greatest thing. She had a really scary kind of jealousy against Wendy (Peter Pan's love interest, for those who have forgotten the story)--& she even shoots her out of the sky at one point! She also had this manic, twitchy energy. All the other actors moved more methodically, in control of themselves. Not Tinkerbell, though.

If Saturday was a day of variety, then Sunday was a day of endurance. 9 hour bike ride, from the outskirts to the interior of Berlin. And a picnic in between. The picnic was delicious. The biking, however, might need another word to describe it. I was lucky to talk to some of the kids from Morus who joined us on the tour (and some adults too!). Finally, after the bike-ride, we cooked up our first family dinner, everyone together at the table. Or at least--the boys cooked for themselves, and the girls cooked for themselves. Then to bed.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bike trip!!!

Hi, everyone, I'm Yuchen, the guy whose face is blocking that of Sarah's in our cover picture(Sarah is the girl who's face is blocked by Yuchen's in that picture). Today we went on a 40 km bike trip in Berlin's lovely woods. It is such a surprise to see so much nature in a huge city like Berlin. It was the scenery that drives us forward(as our legs were thoroughly sore). A picture is more powerful than a thousand words. Let me show you some pictures!*
*Due to my lamentable skills in capturing human faces, the pictures are mostly scenery.
This picture was taken at the beginning of our trip, the beautiful Spree!
Let's ride into the woods!
Who doesn't want to live by the Spree?
After a day's riding, a picnic by the lake is the best fuel!
Berlin from afar

Last but not least, to all mothers: happy mother's day!母亲节快乐!

Busy days and DT flash mob at Brandenburger Tor!

Happy Mothers Day!

We have been busy-busy-busy-busy. That's right! In case you've forgotten what we look like, I'm including a lot of pictures in what will likely be a very disorganized post. Whoops.

The days are all sort of blending into each other. On Thursday, we had a great movement workshop in Steglitz at Tanz Tangente with choreographer Nadja Raszewski and we had our opening reception at MORUS14 where we met some of the kids we are going to be tutoring. At night, we saw some great theater at the Theater Treffen! I think/hope that somebody will write about it.

Here are some photos of our visit to MORUS14 where we met some of the families and introduced ourselves with a slide show.

Oh. . . and Kat made her Berlin Debut Wed. night before a silent film at MORUS14.

Friday started with a movement workshop in Friedrichshain with Jacalyn and Marcela, followed by a surprise Sushi lunch in honor of Teryn's birthday and tutoring and a show and Egyptian food at one of my favorite restaurants after the theater.

This group is impressive, indeed! Despite being very busy they managed to squeeze an RC Deutsches Theater first-ever (!) flashmob into the day's activities in honor of Teryn. She was the center focus of a choreographed dance at Brandenburger Tor. (I hope to post a film of it later.)

Yesterday, we had our first movement workshop with the MORUS kids (16 showed up!) and we then read at the Bebelplatz at Lesen gegen das Vergessen a dramatic reading of a Brecht scene (Das Mahnwort), with Teryn singing the epigraph. The event is in honor of writers whose works were burned by the Nazis on this site on May 10, 1933.

After the Brecht, Chris and I read  a poem by Mühsam accompanied by Kat playing Hindemith on viola (Bratsche). (This was Kat's big debut at the Opera House square!

The crowd of a few hundred people (!) responded enthusiastically. We rushed from there to Berliner Ensemble where some members of our group saw Peter Pan. We all went to the Volksbühne where everyone saw Murmel Murmel. My face still hurts from laughing so hard. I think that Katreina may have laughed even more! What fun!

Earlier this week was "Fegefeuer in Ingolstadt" (Purgatory in Ingolstadt), which was the first Theater Treffen show that some of the group saw (I think that this was Thurs. night, but as said, the days are blending together at this point.).

I hope to post a short video of the flash mob later.