As we wind down the Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo tour we hear from Jack Furlong Jr., AKA Guzella Verbitskaya! He’s giving us a round up of his experiences here in the UK.
Over to you Jack!
Hello again to Dance Consortium and all of the readers out there; coming to you from the tour coach from Salford, Manchester on our way to Birmingham is me, Jack Furlong Jr., otherwise known as Guzella Verbitskaya. It is almost humorous how much time we have spent over these two months on our tour coach traveling to each city, through the gorgeous countryside of the UK, (especially through the highlands) since Mme. Verbitskaya was born on a locomotive that was speeding through the Ural Mountains.
It has been quite an exciting time since we have landed here back in September! We have had many, many enthusiastic audiences, as well as lots of free time to see the sights in each city. This has allowed us to experience the culture of the United Kingdom.
Once I realized that our hotel in London was near Kings Cross Station there was only one thing I wanted to do; I had to take a photo at Platform 9 ¾. With Matthew Poppe (a.k.a Doris Vidanya) in tow, we headed to the station, where the queue was quite long, but worth it. To be a bit of a cliché I had to take an arabesque shot, thankfully the employees of the photo place loved our poses! They allowed Mme. Vidanya and I extra time so we could get the perfect shot; I really wanted to be turned out. I was also able to spend time seeing the usual tourist attractions, such as Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, etc. Alberto Pretto, (a.k.a Nina Immobilashvili) and I spent a lovely evening at the National Portrait Museum. I am a huge history buff so I lived for the portraits of the Tudor Monarchs, I couldn’t get enough. We even had the privilege to see the bust of the infamous, Dame Margot Fonteyn, and a gorgeous painting of former Royal Ballet Principal, Darcey Bussell.
Throughout our whole tour, I was so lucky to find moments to run (many times in the rain) to old ruins, and abbeys in castles. Many of the gorgeous places, such as the St. Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury, and the Cardiff Castle made any ailments my body may ever feel dancing go away! What was extra special for me on this tour was that I am Irish and have had so many friends and family who happen to live in the cities we are traveling in the UK. This tour created so many reunions for me that I so greatly treasured.
In London especially, I had many old friends to see, some whom I have known all of my life. It made me even luckier because I then had knowledgeable tour guides to show me even more exciting things in the places that we went to. I spent a lovely afternoon with my friend Lily and her fiancé, where we visited Kensington Palace and reconnecting on our lives, as it had been nearly 5 years since we have seen each other. My friend Megan from ballet school lives in London, so on one our days off I was allowed to take class from her coach, which was very nice of them, and he was on me like a hawk, which was super good for me! One of the more exciting reunions for me was my friend Yvette. She is a doctor now, and was so busy with school I had not seen her home in Ireland since I was 17, we were always back in Ireland at different times. We had a lovely afternoon at a rooftop bar that sat in front of the London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey; what a sight! The biggest coincidence about this trip though was that one of my best friends, Morgan, who now lives in Manhattan, happened to be in London! I got to spend a lot of time with her and her London friends, as she’s lived in London before. I got to experience a bit of their lives and they showed me all the excitement that London holds!
So excited to see one of my best friends Morgan. Friends since we were children; her favorite story is to everyone how I was her first crush but that she broke my heart. We did a tour around Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House and went to a restaurant that sat over St. Mark’s Cathedral!
An even more special treat for me was that my friend Amelia, had recently gotten a job as a dancer in West End Show! She was able to get me some tickets, so Matthew Poppe and Joshua Thake joined me to see her. The play was called McQueen, and it is the story of the fashion designer, Alexander McQueen. The dark show had an eerie and thoughtful plot, full of beautiful dance sections. We really enjoyed it and I was so proud of how gorgeous my friend was. The Trocks and the dancing cast of the McQueen play were able to spend a night out together, which was particularly fun.
As we traveled around the UK, I was able to see more sights and do more tourism. Many of these tourist attractions were bucket list adventures, such as seeing Stonehenge, which Dance Consortium arranged for us on our way to Cardiff. Thanks Dance Consortium! Dance Consortium was so nice they also arranged for us to take a coach up to Loch Ness. Loch Ness had some of the most gorgeous scenery I have ever seen; it was a beautiful Scottish morning, it was so nice to see from the cruise we booked. On our way to Nottingham we got to stop at the Chatsworth House. This stately home is something I had studied in school, and I was overly enthralled in its history and the art. On a side note, I also enjoyed a lovely lunch with Matthew Poppe, and our soon to be married friends, Chase Johnsey, and Carlos Renedo. There is nothing like having a warm meal on a rainy day, inside the home of Duchess!
As the tour comes to a close I am very excited to dance in Birmingham. Again, I have another friend who lives there so I hope to spend some time with them, but I also look forward to Thursday, when I’ll be flying to Dublin to spend three weeks with family and friends. I am ever so fortunate that our company was able to divert my flight so I can spend time with loved ones and friends; one friend in particular, I am most looking forward to see. My ever quick-witted and dazzling friend Emma lives in the Dublin 4 section of Dublin. It will give me a chance to see many of my friends, who now reside there and of course, to most likely get into a bit of mischief with Emma. The two of us tend to go a bit mad with one another, hopefully Dublin will still be standing by the time I go back to New York!
Emma owns a company, called ‘DollHouse- The Agency,’ a premier full-service staffing agency, and as her company grows she now has more clients in other cities, as well as Dublin. So, while I am back home we will get to do a cross country tour of other cities in Ireland for her work, finding fun wherever we go! While seeing my friends is very important for me, I will definitely be taking some time to go back to Co. Leitrim, where I am from, to see my family!
Co. Leitrim, or otherwise known as the ‘wee county,’ is the smallest populated place in all of Ireland, at only nearly 32,000 people. The homestead that I am from is not even in an actual town, it is in a small Parish Community called, Ballinaglera (meaning ‘town of the clergy), with its allegiance to a small town, named Dowra, known for its pubs. It is an absolute darling place, with idyllic landscape, a gorgeous Lough, named Lough Allen. The area I am from is known for its historical background, from the stories of Finn McCool, to large uprisings during the Irish War of Independence. I will hopefully be spending days drinking tea with my cousins, gossiping and catching up, with long walks, preferably not in the rain around our fields. I am sure it will be an ever-relaxing holiday! A holiday, which will allow me to be refreshed and ready to get back into the studio to work even harder.
As I close this blog, I take a moment to thank all of the readers, patrons, audience members, and the people from Dance Consortium for making the Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo Tour of the UK 2015 possible! It has been an absolutely cherished experience, and has given me memories that will last a lifetime. Hope to see you all back soon!
All my best,