It’s the turn of Trocks dancer Joshua Thake (AKA Eugenia Repelskii) to give you an update of a Trockin’ summer before they turn their sights onto the UK.
So Josh… Take it away!
“It’s been six months since I have been on the Barbary Coast. I felt the Gold Rush of elation as soon as I landed at SFO. After 72 hours of changing time zones and a lifestyle of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I had the privilege of sharing a car to my first gala performance with Principal Dancers of the New York City Ballet, Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette. Fresh from their performances in Saratoga, they were so incredibly helpful shedding some light on what to expect and we swapped stories throughout our travels during rush hour traffic.
After we arrived in Napa, we all settled in at The Westin Verasa and just in time to enjoy a delicious glass of Sauvignon Blanc from a local vineyard, which had crisp, citrus fruit notes along with a vibrant minerality. Perfect for a early evening refreshment. I then settled into my Deluxe King Suite complete with balcony AND kitchen, a dream accommodation after my traveling extravaganza. This prompted my compulsive need to check out the local grocery store. I was overjoyed to find that The Oxbow Produce and Grocery was a short, 5-minute walk from the Westin. I grabbed all of my Breakfast Essentials for the two days I would be in Napa. I especially love making my Vegan Protein Shake, courtesy of Arbonne complete with Bananas, Mixed Berries, Coconut Water, Almond Milk, Spinach, and equal portions of both Vanilla and Chocolate Protein. So yummy! Also on the spontaneous shopping list was eggs, tomatoes, arugula, broccolini and green onions, for an extra protein-packed breakfast for the performance day. For more information concerning Arbonne, please go to my personal website: www.joshuathake.arbonne.com
I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the 9am bus call thanks to the most comfortable bed I have slept on in recent memory. Well, and thanks to a cup of Longevity Warehouse-inspired Bulletproof Coffee working in tandem with the previously described breakfast. I boarded the bus and met with the incredible international cast of dancers, some of which I knew of and others that I was getting to know for the first time. We arrived at the Lincoln Theatre and had a great warm-up class with Christopher Stowell, former Artistic Director of Oregon Ballet Theatre and ballet master of San Francisco Ballet. A true honor! All of the dancers were so inspiring and it was a true privilege to take class with them and observe their ritualistic approach to the art form we all were there to celebrate.
I was surprised to find out that I was performing Dying Swan with live accompaniment. Having had my first experience working with a Live Orchestra in our recent tour to Genoa, I felt confident all would work out for the best. My cellist was the incomparable, Nina Kotova. Her Stradivarius was a stunning instrument and she had an acute mastery over its strings. Performing with her will definitely be a highlight of my career.
The performance was sold out and the audience, like us dancers, were on fire. The energy was palpable, rushing through us like a raging river of endorphins. Needless to say, I was LIVING! Ashley Bouder and Andrew Veyette were SENSATIONAL in their interpretation of Stars and Stripes Pas de Deux, Aaron Robison and Laura Strongin were a dream pair for the Pas de Deux from Giselle’s Act 2, Frances Chung and Joseph Walsh delivered an unstoppable Wheeldon Pas de Deux, Cory Stearns and the UK’s-own Beatriz Stix-Brunell gracefully executed the Pas de Deux from Kudelka’s Creul World, and Mayara Pineiro and Arián Molina Soca’s rendition of Spring Waters quenched the audience’s thrist for Bravura partnering, the piece ending with a breath-taking, running, one-handed torch lift.
After my performance of Dying Swan, there was a brief intermission and then it was on to Act 2. Opening with a true crowd pleaser, Frances Chung and Joseph Walsh wowed the audience with their mastery of the iconic Pas de Deux from Le Corsaire. These costumes were a favorite of mine. The black, glittery pants of the Slave rivaled only by the sequin wardrobe of Liza Minnelli. Ashley Bouder and Andrew were bold and beautiful in a contemporary work by Christopher D’Amboise called Tribute, Cory Stearns and Beatriz rocked a Pas de Deux by Tudor, Aaron Robison KILLED a Classic Cossack solo, and Arián along with Mayara annihilated the Don Quioxte Wedding Pas de Deux with flirtatious flair.
Post show festivities were held nearby at the Darioush Vineyard. This vineyard prides itself on impeccable quality and boy, they did not disappoint. The hosts were gracious and beyond hospitable. Tory and I were seated at the same table as Isabel Allende, author of The House of Spirits. Meeting her was a true pleasure. She was elegantly poised and a wondrous curator of words. She even is sending me copies of her novels! The meal we were served was a Four Course, Persian-themed dinner paired beautifully with a Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Late Harvest that was sublime. There was also this Fava Bean purée that rendered me speechless and the most tender chicken with this glorious herb rub that melted in my mouth. Basically, a food-gasm was had by all.
Upon checking out of the Westin the next day, my good friends, Barbara Liu-McDowell and Jonathan Dummar helped me settle into vacation mode. Visiting Harbin Hot Springs was precisely what the doctor ordered. These healing hot springs gave new meaning to R and R. Full body contrast baths, sunbathing, and my first ever Watsu Massage gave me Resurrecting Rejuvenation. I will be making the trek up to the Hot Springs several more times before heading back to New York, for sure.
I will spend the remainder of my time off In San Francisco. A place that will always retain a special place in my heart. Having lived in this city off and on for almost the last decade of my life, it’s a very comforting location to reboot, reconnect, and reflect. While here I will be keeping in shape with the help of Bikram Yoga, The Dailey Method, Fitness SF and various Classes available on Class Pass.
I will also perform under my Drag Alias, Chastity Belle or ChaZ, for short. Typically, I perform as Liza Minnelli or as Judy Garland. However, just yesterday Barbara Liu and I saw a proverbial squirrel… There was a Britney Spears vs. Christina Aguilera show going on at San Francisco Oasis, a recently remodeled drag club in the SOMA neighborhood. She said she had a Catholic School Girl outfit and I knew I had already braided a wig and just needed some fuzzy scrunchies to complete the tribute to Ms. Spears’ 17-year old self.
I am so looking forward to my first tour to the United Kingdom!
Be well and Keep on Trockin’!