Thoughts After the Tour from PBT Dancer Danielle Downey

We arrived back to the States this week, wrapping up a wonderful international tour in Israel. I honestly admit that I am exhausted from a busy week and feeling a bit of jet lag, but the experience was truly amazing and I will cherish the memories of the tour forever.

Performing in Israel was unique from other times I’ve been on stage. Realizing that we were representing the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in another country for the first time in nearly two decades created a distinct energy and excitement between all of the dancers.
When we were not performing we tried to make the most out of our trip by visiting many historic sites and landmarks in Israel. In the two days that we had off I managed to visit Nazareth, the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, the Bahai Gardens, Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea! Each place was so different from the first and they were all wonderful. I feel thankful that I was able to see so many different faces of Israel in such a short period of time.
On a side note: Wanting to ride a camel is something that I had been joking about with the dancers prior to heading to Israel. But all jokes aside, once we arrived to the country that silly goal of mine quickly made its way to the top of my bucket list. When we arrived in Jerusalem fellow dancer, Alejandro Diaz spotted a camel and quickly got my attention. I ran over hoping to maybe get a picture next to it. When the owner asked if I wanted to ride him, I didn’t even hesitate saying yes and jumped on! The camel was so sweet and took me for a short walk. We were on the top of Mt. Olive which offered a beautiful view of the entire ‘Old City’ of Jerusalem. I was all smiles–this definitely may have been the highlight of the tour for me!

Danielle performing in Rishon LeZion

PBT’s Danielle Downey rides a camel

Thoughts After the Tour from PBT Dancer Luca Sbrizzi

Friday and Saturday were the only 2 days that the company was able to tour and see Israel, and I have to say, they were really well spent. We got to explore and visit places that I had been reading and hearing about since I was a little kid, so not only it was fascinating but also very informative and spiritually enlightening . On Friday I was able to visit Nazareth, the Jordan River, and the Sea of Galilee and Saturday I saw Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

The place I was most fascinated by was Nazarath. The whole city had a really wonderful feeling to it: calm and peaceful. Walking through those street felt like a meditation to me. But the thing that literally took my breath away, was the Basilica of the Annunciation. As soon as I stepped inside I got goosebumps, and I felt this really strong connection with my Catholic roots. It was very special to me.

I was also really glad to be able to see and visit the old city of Jerusalem. The religious tension between the four quarters in which the city is divided, was clearly visible to me. And it was quite amazing walking through three of the four quarters (the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter), and seeing the difference between each of them in character and people. I wish I had been able to visit the Tample Mount, but unfortunately it was not accessible. Being able to experience the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was another amazing part of this tour. There are no words to describe its magnificence and significance to me.

Lastly, I have to mention the Dead Sea. It was the most bizarre experience I have ever had.  Being able to completely float in that sea and cover my body in mud was truly exceptional. I think I already feel some of the healing benefits.

This tour has been a one in a life time experience that I will take with me forever.

Luca Sbrizzi at the Dead Sea

PBT Heads Back Home!

PBT dancers Robert Moore & Stephen Hadala having way too much fun filling out their customs forms.

PBT dancer Eva Trapp very excited to be heading back to home sweet home!

PBT dancer Amanda Cochrane getting a nap in during our layover in PHL.

PBT dancers Luca Sbrizzi, Caitlin Peabody and Joe Parr stretching it out during our layover in PHL

PBT Performs in Rishon LeZion, Israel

All photos by Aimee DiAndrea.

Photographs from Sylvia Pas de Deux - Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

PBT Visits the Dead Sea

One things that most of the dancers were absolutely determined to see in Israel was the Dead Sea.  With its natural healing benefits, the dancers thought it was the perfect way to end the trip to soothe their sore muscles and get them ready and relaxed for the 12 hour flight back to the states.

The Dead Sea. Photo by PBT dancer Danielle Downey

PBT dancers Alexandra Kochis and Christopher Budzynski covered in Dead Sea mud! Photo by PBT dancer Danielle Downey

PBT dancers Nurlan Abougaliev taking in some sun while absorbing the Dead Sea mud! Photo by PBT dancer Danielle Downey

The lowest bar in the world at the Dead Sea! Photo by PBT dancer Danielle Downey.

All the ladies! Photo by PBT dancer Nicholas Coppula

Photo by PBT dancer Nicholas Coppula

Photo by PBT dancer Nicholas Coppula

Danielle Downey floating in the Dead Sea. Photo by PBT dancer Nicholas Coppula

Photo by PBT dancer Nicholas Coppula

Photo by PBT dancer Nicholas Coppula

Photo by PBT Soloist, Luca Sbrizzi