Film by Franck Thibault of this summer’s LINES Ballet tour
Speaking with Babatunji on the beauty of touring and this summer’s unique experiences:
Tell us a summary of your touring experience this summer. Where did you travel?
Touring with LINES this summer was amazing! The sun blazed during the day and the sky was lit up by the stars during the night. We toured to Italy, France, and Spain…and back to Italy! This was my fist time traveling to both Italy and Spain.
Unfortunately, we where unable to complete the entirety of our tour, as we were supposed to end the tour in Turkey, but it was unsafe to travel there due to political problems and civil unrest. That aside it was still an amazing tour complete with performing on outside stages (which is my favorite)!
Why do you think touring with LINES Ballet is important for the company and for your art?
I think that touring is important for the company and my art because touring really puts everything to the test. Not only are you performing a lot, but you are also moving around a lot. So not only are you exhausting yourself, but you also don’t really have a place to call home where you can ground/center/recharge yourself – especially on long tours.
It takes extreme focus and drive to give so much of yourself night after night without breaking and I have broken many times on stage.
But once you push past it all, you transcend.
I really like touring because it teaches me how much more I can actually be and how much more I can actually give by giving me the opportunity to transcend my physical and mental limitations.
How does the company overcome any obstacles that come your way during tour?
Many of the obstacles that we have overcome on tour I attribute to our outstanding staff that travel with us. Shout out to Cody Chen”Jack-of-all-trades”, Chris Griffin “the man who never sleeps”, Meredith Webster “master-ess”, and Robert Rosenwasser “commander and chief/big teddy bear”. Special shout out to Selby Wynn for coming onboard and managing us! Couldn’t get through any of the crazy obstacles that present themselves without these people.
What was one lesson you learned from touring this summer that will stay with you throughout the rest of your dancing experience?
In the second city, we performed on an outdoor stage that was at a slightly heightened elevation and because of this the air was cold. The cold air mixed with the heat of the stage lights made for some light condensation on the ground. It wasn’t really a problem, but by the time intermission had finished and we were heading into the second act, the water onstage was out of control and people where dropping like flies! It was wild! Needless to say tensions where high.
I witnessed fear at an all time high amongst my peers and I saw it eat some alive, especially after a fall. Their will to continue fighting was replaced with anger, frustration and even more fear.
But what I will never forget was a solo that Adji Cissoko performed. The music was calm and almost non-existent, it was just her. She performed at most three movements before flying up in the air and landing flat on her back. It sounded like a bomb went off on stage.
I was afraid that fear had eaten her up at that point, but she got up and soared!
I could feel my body vibrating and heating up with euphoria. Then I could feel the hairs on my neck and arms stand up as I felt both the silence of the audience as well as the energy that they where sending from their seats to the lone dancer on stage. And when she finished and began to leave the stage, the silence was broken as if she saved the day. It was beautiful and a true testament to love and determination.