An American in Paris (sans-dancing)

Here is company dancer Kirsten Evans writing about her adventures in Paris. Kirsten – who is recovering from a back injury – was originally Paris-bound for a dance workshop with roommate and best friend Tegan Rich (who is still participating in the workshop). Now, she is discovering Paris a different way, and hopefully stepping lightly and carefully on those cobblestone rues.

Eiffel Tower

When you are presented with the opportunity to attend a summer ballet intensive in Paris, you take it, sans hesitation.  When you are diagnosed with a spinal stress fracture two weeks before the end of your season, making both performing in your ballet company’s final show and participating in the summer intensive absolutely impossible, you take those two weeks to start healing your broken back and quickly find a non-dance-related excuse to keep your Parisian travel plans.  Such was my predicament about a month and a half ago, just before FBP’s performance of The Sleeping Beauty.

So what ingenious justification did I come up with to save my previously purchased plane tickets and mostly memorized maps of Paris from an unceremonious trashcan burial?  Why, I signed myself up for a French language class in Paris, of course!  And I must say, it could not have worked out any better.  This is my third week of French classes here in the City of Light, and I’ve learned so much more than comment dire Je suis une Americain danseuse de ballet!

Eiffel Tower

Besides the immense amount of French language I hear, speak, write, learn, and (attempt to) use every day, simply being submerged in the Parisian culture for these past few weeks has taught me more than I ever could have anticipated. Not only have I become exposed and accustomed to the relaxed pace of this diverse city, but I’ve been able to absorb the sites and art through an (almost) completely unfiltered lens.

As I wander down les rues of my neighborhood during the day, I’m taking the time to look up and notice the clever and colorful street art that so perfectly contrasts the framed masterpieces of Monet and Renoir proudly embellishing the walls of some of the world’s most famous museums.

In Nice
In Nice

Between the obligatory trips to le Musee d’Orsay and La Tour Eiffel, I am exploring Oberkampf, the “bobo” hipster neighborhood two metro stops away from my apartment, and buying the sweetest cherries at my local produce stand. In the evenings I’m sampling charcuterie plates and taste-testing cheap wines in teeny little brasseries hidden away by red awnings.  At night I fall asleep to the sound of throaty French voices jabbering from balconies across the way, and in the morning I wake up to the purr of Vespa’s zooming past our gate en route to the workplaces of their operators.

It’s these less obvious experiences that I hope to build upon each day.  It is these unique times that will become my truly cherished memories of Paris when I’m no longer living around the corner from une fromagerie and a train ride away from Notre Dame.

Kirsten Evans and Tegan Rich
Kirsten Evans and Tegan Rich

To read more about Kirsten and Tegan’s trip to Paris, visit Kirsten’s blog: Setting the Barre.

(All photos by Kirsten Evans with her awesome camera)

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One Reply to “An American in Paris (sans-dancing)”

  1. I loved reading this article!! Kirsten is such a talented dancer AND writer!! Her love of Paris is evident, and I hope she can return there to dance one day, too. Thanks for the glimpse of three fabulous weeks into a city very near to my own heart. Thoroughly enjoyed it!!

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